Bronx's Cardinal Hayes overcomes odds to win NY state football championship

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Bronx high school team gears up for high-stakes championship game
Jim Dolan has more on the Cardinal Hayes High School football team.

THE BRONX, New York (WABC) -- It is a big championship weekend in college football - and closer to home there was the Catholic State Championship game between Cardinal Hayes and St. Francis.

Cardinal Hayes won 40-22 over St Francis, winning their first New York State Catholic High School championship - the first inner-city school to win.

The game was played at Columbia Field in Manhattan as the Cardinals played all of their games on the road this season as their home field in the Bronx was unplayable with poor field conditions and no lights.

"The vast majority of our kids are from single-parent homes," says Coach C.J. O'Neill. "We're just looking to break the poverty cycle and help kids get opportunities, get to college, and advance their families."

With all of those challenges, you would think that everything would have to go perfectly through the year in order for a team like Cardinal Hayes to get to this finals. But It didn't.

There was a fire in the coach's office midseason that destroyed a bunch of expensive equipment.

The field they usually practice on had become so deteriorated that it was too dangerous to use they had to find another practice facility.

Adversity? Absolutely.

"We've had some obstacles, and we've talked about resilience in our program," said Coach O'Neill. "You have to be resilient, you have to develop a resiliency and you have to figure out ways over, under, around - whatever you need to do to get around those obstacles."

"You can't take what other people have and make excuses for yourself," said team captain Roy Boyd Jr. "I think you just gotta put your head down and work and that's what we've been doing, and that's what we're going to continue to do."


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