To say it's been a long journey for the Cardinal Hayes High School football team in the Bronx would be an understatement.
They finished in last place last season. This year, they didn’t have a home field to play on because of poor field conditions. And a lack of lighting on their practice field meant the team had to walk 10 minutes once the sun went down to continue practicing on a neighboring school’s field.
To add insult to injury, a fire broke out in their coach's office, destroying some of their equipment.
Despite all those challenges, on Monday morning the team was all smiles after a 40-22 victory over St. Francis High School in Buffalo to win their first Catholic High School State Championship in the team's history.
The game was played at Columbia Field in Manhattan.
According to head coach C.J. O'Neill and quarterback Rich Belin, who both joined "Mornings On 1" Monday to talk about their comeback season, there is no secret to their success — it was just plain old hard work.
"You're gonna get success through hard work," O'Neill said. "There's no secret sauce. You just got to grind."
Belin described as incredible the outpouring of support the team received not just from alumni of Cardinal Hayes, but all of New York City.
“It meant everything to realize that the state championship was bigger than our program, it was bigger than the school, it was bigger than us,” he said. “It was amazing to have that support from around the city, from around the state.”