NEW YORK -- Cardinal Hayes High School won the New York state football championship over the weekend and made history.
Monday, the mood in the cafeteria at the school in the South Bronx was boisterous - and rightfully so.
Cardinal Hayes is the first New York City school to win the Catholic League's prestigious AAA title.
"We're walking on clouds right now. We're on the top of the world," said quarterback Rich Belin.
Belin, a junior, led the Cardinals to the Catholic League State Championship on Saturday.
"We all dreamed about this. We all set goals at the beginning of the season and we were able to meet those goals, and it's the best possible feeling," said Belin.
Winning the title was a lofty goal for a team that only won two games in 2022. Plus, poor turf conditions at Macombs Dam Park meant the Cardinals couldn't play on their home field this year.
Head coach C.J. O'Neil said his team showed resilience by clearing those hurdles.
"You know you're going to have ups and downs. You've got to figure out ways to get through obstacles, over obstacles, around obstacles. Whatever you've got to do. And you've got to keep getting better every day," said O'Neil.
The new trophies are on display for all students and staff to celebrate.
"It's connected the students to the school much more deeply in terms of having something successful to cheer for," said Principal William Lessa.
Belin said the team will take some well-earned time to celebrate before beginning their title defense.
for more features.