By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Last year, the Railsplitters were the hunters, marching through a perfect season with one lofty goal in mind: to deliver Lincoln's first city football title in over two decades.
After fulfilling their destiny as the Brooklyn school's first gridiron champion since 1990, coach Shawn O'Connor's battle-tested unit finds itself in an unfamiliar role this season, that of the hunted.
If Week 1 of the Public School Athletic League season is any indicator, the Railsplitters appear primed and ready for that challenge as well.
Featuring a core of returning third-year starters, Lincoln doubled up Clinton, 36-18, last Friday on Ocean Parkway for its 14th consecutive win since a gutwrenching 8-6 loss to Brooklyn rival Fort Hamilton in the 2010 PSAL title game at Yankee Stadium.
The Splitters (1-0), who went 13-0 last year, including a 20-12 triumph over Erasmus at "The House That Steinbrenner Built" for the city championship, didn't waste much time finding adequate replacements for graduated star quarterback Jessel Jones and running back Kareem Folkes from the 2011 squad.
Junior quarterback Javon Moore completed 5-of-9 passes for 105 yards, including a 60-yard scoring strike to fellow third-year player Khendell Puryear, and junior tailback Antoine Holloman Jr. rumbled for 232 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries -- that's a little more than 10 yards per rush, if you're counting -- as Lincoln used a 14-point third quarter to take charge of an otherwise very competitive game against the Governors (0-1).
The win kept Lincoln on top of the weekly power rankings, and got them ready for yet another formidable foe Friday as Staten Island powerhouse Tottenville rolls into Coney Island. The Pirates (1-0) bludgeoned perennial playoff contender Fort Hamilton (0-1), 32-0, in Bay Ridge on Saturday as senior signal-caller Brandon Barnes orchestrated a devastating air attack against the Tigers, completing 8-of-13 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns and an astronomical 145.3 quarterback rating.
Tottenville, ranked alongside Lincoln and last year's championship runner-up Erasmus, in the Championship Division's early season Top Three, has an opportunity to knock the Railsplitters off their lofty perch at the top, something each and every opponent on the schedule is eager to achieve as the season progresses.
The Dutchmen (1-0), who came within a Hail Mary completion of stunning the Railsplitters in the Bronx last winter, needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to escape Curtis with an 18-14 victory last Saturday in Staten Island. The Erasmus passing game took a hit without quarterback Wayne Morgan, who is now at Syracuse, but the junior backfield duo of Curtis Samuel and Kahlil Lewin backed a strong defensive effort for the Dutchmen by combining for 218 yards on 25 carries.
Erasmus will host Clinton on Saturday at Brooklyn's Sid Luckman Field, hoping to keep pace with the top-ranked Railsplitters in its quest to become Public School champs for the first time in the elite Championship Division.
Other Brooklyn PSAL games of note from last weekend include: Boys and Girls(1-0) topped Port Richmond, 14-8, behind 108 rushing yards from senior Najee Champagne; the Chiefs (1-0 of Canarsie posted a 20-0 blanking of Lehman in Brooklyn in their first game since the controversial firing of long-time coach Mike Camarardese. New Canarsie coach Kyle Allen, a former Chief and Camardese protege, watched his defense hold the visiting Lions (0-1) to just 78 total yards; Jefferson (1-0) beat Brooklyn Tech (0-1), 18-7, spoiling the Engineers' home opener; Midwood (1-0) edged Truman, 14-12, in the Bronx; New Utrecht (1-0) went on the road and buried Beach Channel, 38-6, as junior Jaleel Brown rushed for 155 yards and two scores; Grand Street (0-1) lost 28-0 to John Adams; Sheepshead Bay (0-1) dropped its home opener, 28-16, to Campus Magnet.
On the local Catholic School scene, Xaverian, which fell just short of capturing the CHSFL title a year ago, suffered a 27-6 defeat at Newburgh Free Academy last Friday night in a non-conference tilt. The Clippers (0-1) will visit Archbishop Stepinac Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ... The Poly Prep Blue Devils got their Independent School schedule off to a disappointing start with a 35-14 loss to powerhouse Iona Prep last weekend. Poly will shoot for its first win against the Peddie School in Bay Ridge on Friday at 7 p.m.