Touchdowns Turn to Baskets: Marist Football Takes On Intramurals

Marist’s varsity football team finished the Pioneer Football League season with a 5-5 record and a few impressive performances, albeit without anything to celebrate. They missed the postseason, though they did get a glimpse of their future with freshman quarterback Brock Bagozzi showcasing his talents against Bryant this past season.

“The Franchise” as his teammates like to call him, is not only a leader on the field but on the court as well. Very few intramural sports have participants that actually care, yet intramural basketball is the one exception – every team seems to take it seriously – and the intensity of the games can rival that of some Division I sports at Marist. 

Competition is fierce year-round, but the league doesn’t reach its peak until the spring semester. Student-athletes are not allowed to compete in intramurals in-season, but when fall sports wind down, players on the football team are eligible to participate. These athletes train all year long to prepare for the upcoming intramural season, and they are still determined to win it all despite missing the first few sessions.

Many intramural basketball teams built from one of Marist’s sports teams are all bark and no bite. Simply put, it’s not their primary sport and even though they may be able to do some cool tricks here and there, they ultimately lack the cohesiveness to go deep into the playoffs.

22 teams competed during the first spring intramural session, however despite the plethora of talent within the league, it was Parady’s Playboys that ended up making headlines around campus right from the first day of play.

The entire gym is filled with a different aura when the football team-turned-basketball outfit begins practicing alley-oops and throwing down windmill dunks during warmups.

Right away, it became clear that this team had a different mentality than the traditional intramural roster. Before anyone could catch their breath, the score was 21-0. Swarming defense, fast break galore and lights-out shooting led them to an astonishing 83-30 victory in their season opener.

“We rely on athleticism and defense,” sophomore Max Zart said, the Playboys’ assistant coach. “We know our group of guys, we understand our strengths and weaknesses and in the end, it all comes down to our strong chemistry on the court.”

Parady’s Playboys was a team strategically put together. Each member of the roster plays an integral role, whether it be motivational coaching, a primary playmaker, or a spot-up shooter.

Bagozzi fronts the roster as the team leader. The New York all-state small school honorable mention in 2020 was a varsity athlete for three seasons at Solvay High School, where he averaged 19.8 PPG his junior year and 14.9 PPG his senior year.

Right alongside Bagozzi is sophomore wide receiver Matt Stianche. The 6-foot-3-inch wideout from Northhampton, Pennsylvania rivals Bagozzi as one of the best athletes on this roster, throwing down numerous dunks during the season to truly shake their opponents. Stianche played varsity basketball for Bethlehem Catholic, averaging 5.3 PPG his senior year. 

“My coach talked to me about possibly playing division II ball, but I told him I was just going to focus on playing football,” Stianche said.

For Stianche, he believes this was the right decision in hindsight, but he didn’t let his decision to no longer pursue basketball stop him from sprinting into transition every play to try and provide the crowd a show. Intramural basketball is flooded with student-athletes looking to just play competitive basketball, while Parady’s Playboys are out here trying to garner the most “oohs” and “ahhs” from the people watching.

Bagozzi and Stianche provide the majority of the highlight reels, though the roster is composed of many other crucial pieces.

Sophomore Paul Saurer has dominated the paint on both sides of the ball, as the defensive lineman was a varsity basketball player for Madison High School in New Jersey. Saurer averaged 7.4 PPG in his junior and senior years.

Freshman Logan Brabham has been one of the team’s most reliable shooters. Whenever the team needed a timely bucket, Brabham would seemingly deliver. The quarterback played varsity basketball at Bayside High School in Palm Bay, Florida, where he averaged 9.6 PPG his junior year and 13 PPG his senior year.

The rest of the roster did not play competitively but was assembled based on the specific skill sets they provided to Parady’s Playboys. Sophomore wide receiver Brett Landis has played basketball his entire life, and despite not playing in high school, Landis did record a triple-double in their season opener. 

“I think of myself as a Joakim Noah type of player,” Landis said. “I like to play defense, I like to be hardnose, I like to be gritty.”

Parady’s Playboys finished the intramural season 5-1 with a +161 point differential. Utterly dominant throughout the session gave them the first-round bye, finishing as the number two seed behind RIP Betty White. The team had complete confidence they could get the job done in the playoffs, though there were a few lingering issues they had struggled with during the regular season.

“Our half-court offense has struggled this season and against man defense, we always resort to one-on-one ball,” Landis said.

These were problems the team attempted to work through earlier in the session, but could never quite figure out how to counteract until the postseason. Their first playoff game did not go as smoothly as initially anticipated, with the game being close throughout until they finally pulled away at the end. Though what brought attention to this game was a second-half altercation that resulted in Marist security needing to be called over to prevent any further conflict.

Nearly the entire football team showed up to watch, and the crowd that showed for this quarterfinal game really magnified the gravity of intramural basketball. Despite the drama in game one of these playoffs, the true show would not begin until the next round.

In the semifinals, Parady’s Playboys were matched up against The Hardwoods, one of the most consistently stable teams in intramurals. They were right behind the Playboys in the standings at three and have always been a prominent threat in previous sessions. However, reputation aside, the team led by Bagozzi with 22 points and Stianche with 16 points easily took down the Hardwoods 51-34.

“We practice every day, run every day, we’re in shape from football,” Stianche said. “We feel like we are ready for any team that faces up against us.”

Winning the finals would prove their legitimacy while losing would indicate that they were unable to come through when it mattered most despite all of the hype they received. A team whose average margin of victory was 32 during the regular season needed this victory to cement their intramural legacy. Yet, despite all the expectations and talent on the roster, they could not control the pace of the game against RIP Betty White in the finals.

Parady’s Playboys were within single digits after the first half and with less than 14 minutes left in the game, they trailed 39-30 in what appeared to be a dire situation. In the most important game of intramurals, somebody needed to step up and the only man entrusted with the ball at this moment was “The Franchise” Brock Bagozzi. In an astounding display of sheer domination, Bagozzi proceeded to lead the team on a 12-0 run to bring them back into the game. Playing nearly the entire game, Bagozzi found his shooting stroke, scoring 25 points in an incredible 52-50 victory.

“My mindset’s always ‘shooters shoot,’” Bagozzi said. “Had to make shots to win the game and we did that.”

Four varsity athletes, three with the athleticism to dunk, and the chemistry of a football team culminated in an intramural championship. Watching Parady’s Playboys play was essentially like watching the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s: not everybody loved them, but they were incredibly fun to watch and overall, just a solid basketball team.

Edited by Luke Sassa and Bridget Reilly

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