Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda felt the pain of its opening week loss against Sweet Home last Friday — and not just on the scoreboard.
The Jacks lost three key performers in sophomores Taylor Mellott and Tanner Colucci, and senior Leroy Goldsmith, and it hurt — most noticably on the defensive side of the ball.
Colucci will return this Saturday when NT travels to Grand Island to battle the Vikings, but Mellott (out indefinitely) and Goldsmith (expected to return next week) will remain on the sidelines.
“We’ve been preaching since day one that if you’re penciled in as the No. 2 guy, you’re a day away from being in,” said Jacks coach Tony Truilizio.
The rash of injuries couldn’t have hit the Jacks at a more important time, as they are trying to build chemistry on the field and get more in sync with their new coach.
Grand Island has a lot of size and some speed in a couple of key positions, according to Truilizio. He thinks it’s going to be a very close game and a good one for fans to watch.
The Vikings struggled a bit last week getting their offense going in a 26-14 win over an improved Kenmore East squad.
This week Truilizio has stressed to his team the importance of containment on defense. Sweet Home broke off a couple big plays last week and the Jacks will look to avoid that same fate against Grand Island.
Truilizio wants his guys active on defense and thinks the key to the game will be forcing turnovers and limiting mistakes.
”This game has playoff implications for us and we need to win,” Truilizio said. “A loss will send us to the back of bus, so to speak. We need to win this game as a program — it’s a must win for our team. The way we figure it 4-2 is about where you’ll be to get into playoffs.”