By MATT PARRINO
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Nothing went right for the Lumberjacks in Week 5, and they never could recover from an early first-quarter, 14-0 deficit against Starpoint.
North Tonawanda’s three turnovers against the Spartans led to three touchdowns and Jacks coach Tony Truilizio said his team has to take care of the ball if they want to win this week against McKinley.
“Between the turnovers and short fields, our defense couldn’t hold (Starpoint) to anything,” he said. “It was also the first time we struggled on offense. In all phases we just didn’t come out to play.”
This Friday the road gets even tougher for NT when the Bulldogs bring their athletic and fast bunch to the NT Sports Complex for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Jacks.
Truilizio said the key to the game will be getting back to what the Jacks do well: executing on offense and sustaining drives.
“We’re going to try and keep them in front of us,” he said. “When you pack the box they throw a pass. It could be three yards but they run after the catch ... We’re going to try to manage the clock and keep their speed in front of us.”
Tonawanda at Burgard,
7 p.m. Friday
The Warriors have that winning feeling after notching No. 1 last week against Amherst.
Tonawanda coach Rob Gross said it was a great win and the success his team had was because of the way it controlled the ball and moved the line of scrimmage.
Gross said that the win was a nice reward for a Tonawanda squad that has been improving every week.
“We played well in most of our games and we have been tied in the second and third quarter of games,” he said. “It was just putting together a fourth quarter performance. We needed to dominate the line of scrimmage and we did that.”
Next up for the Warriors, Burgard boasts an athletic team and Gross said his team will have to come ready to play to knock off the Bulldogs.
“They’re well coached and ranked fifth in Western New York for good reason,” Gross said. “They’re a very good and athletic team. We can’t give up the big play.”
Ken West at Niagara Falls, 2 p.m. Saturday
The Blue Devils seemed to carry over all momentum from a Week 5, 30-6 win over Riverside when they jumped out to a 15-0 lead on Lockport last Saturday.
It turned out, however, that Lockport was too tough to stop, handing Kenmore West its first AA loss and snatching a third consecutive North Division crown from coach Rich Harris and the Blue Devils.
“We played very well and I think we held up admirably against a senior-laden team,” Harris said. “We gave them a game and we put a scare into them. As far as (our) team it’s been getting better every week. I mean we’re 2-3 but I think we’re the best 2-3 team I’ve coached.”
Now Ken West has Niagara Falls — a team that, Harris said, has always given the Blue Devils trouble — and needs a win to clinch second place in the division and a home playoff game. Harris said the key for his team is to defend the pass.
Both squads are 2-3 and have beaten the same two opponents.
Harris likes his team’s chances but knows it’s going to be a fight.
“This game will set things right. I think it’s going to be a real measuring stick,” Harris said. “Niagara Falls shows up every year and they play their best game against us. They don’t turn the ball over against us. We got into a track meet last year and we sacored more, but they gave us everything we could handle.”
St. Joe’s at Lockport,
2 p.m. Saturday
Aquinas, out of Section V in Rochester, had won 25 straight against Monsignor Martin opponents before last weekend’s bout with undefeated St. Joe’s. The Marauders returned to Buffalo after ending that streak.
“It was fantastic. The kids played hard,” said St. Joe’s coach Dennis Gilbert. “They checked their ego at the door and everybody did their part.”
Up next is a showdown between the high-powered rushing attack of Lockport and the Marauders high-scoring, unpredictable dual-threat attack.
Junior quarterback Dennis Gilbert Jr. lined up under center for the first time and completed 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Gilbert said the move allows speedster Nigel Davis to get back on the outside and Tyler Hill to line up at tight end.
“He’s not a game changer but he’s a pretty smart kid,” Gilbert said. “He knows the offense very well and he’s just calm. We become more dynamic when Nigel is out on the edge.”
Gilbert said his team must take care of the ball and slow down Lions stud running back James Chambers to beat Lockport.
“We need to do what we do best (and stay on the offensive),” Gilbert said. “Chambers is a heck of a back. We have to make sure to contain him and that’ll happen if we’re getting the job done up front.”
Starpoint at Ken East,
2 p.m. Saturday
The Bulldogs are still licking their wounds after McKinley unloaded on them in Week 5.
Kenmore East had been building momentum every week and its offense, led by junior quarterback Connor McMahon, seemed poised for a nice finish to the season. McKinley obviously had other ideas.
This week the Bulldogs face a Starpoint team hungry for a win that would secure a playoff spot. The Spartans ran all over the Lumberjacks last week, totaling 336 yards on the ground en route to a 48-7 victory.
The Bulldogs will have to find a way to slow down Spartans running back Evan Majewski and company to pull the upset — even if their offense is able to get back on track.
Timon at O’Hara,
2 p.m. Saturday
Coming off a 35-0 shutout loss to St. Joe’s, O’Hara set out to make a statement in Week 5 and it did just that.
Quarterback Anthony DiFrancesco ran for three touchdowns, running back Kyree Carter added two more on the ground and the Hawks mangled University Prep of Rochester, 49-30.
Back in Section IV action this week, the Hawks will hook up with Bishop Timon. The Tigers are 3-2 and have won two straight, including a 28-21 win over St. Mary’s last week.
The Hawks fell to St. Mary’s 40-18 earlier this season. To knock off the Tigers, O’Hara will need DiFrancesco and Carter to control the clock on the ground and the team must protect the football.Follow the Tonawanda News sports desk on Twitter @tonanewssports.