Tonawanda News — Tony Truilizio had a heart-to-heart talk with his entire Lumberjacks team Monday on the heels of a 35-21 loss to Grand Island.
The message was simple: the playoffs are still the goal for the North Tonawanda football team.
“We’re still in the mix for a playoff position. It’s not like we need any help, we still control our own destiny, so that’s positive. Things are moving in the right direction and we’re taking one game at a time. I’m happy with the direction we’ve turned this week — we didn’t take a step back.”
Truilizio said NT had a great week of practice, especially on Wednesday when the defense turned in its best effort so far this season.
Important defensive pieces have been missing for Truilizio in Leroy Goldsmith and Taylor Mellott, and neither will be ready to return on Saturday against Williamsville North.
NT hits the road to take on the Spartans Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. and Truilizio’s main concern is the Spartan passing attack. Through two games the Jacks have allowed a combined 81 points and he is hoping his defense can contain North’s speedy receiving stable.
“We have to keep these guys in front of us and get alot more pressure on the quarterback than we’ve had in the past,” Truilizio said. “The biggest thing in the Grand Island game was that we had over 300 yards of offense but we kept turning the ball over. I’m very happy with the direction the offense is going.”
The Jacks will look to set running back Christian Mahoe and Josh Brosius loose on North, as both found running room last week. Truilizio is hoping his team can continue to build off what’s worked and limit mistakes going forward.
“We are growing together as a team. The way I always preach is that we have to have a family mentality and watch out for each other as brothers. I do see progress, but ultimately we have a young team and we do have some senior leadership, but we’re young in terms of playing experience ... They’re learning and they’re getting better.”
Maryvale at Tonawanda, 7:30 p.m. Friday
The Warriors came out clicking on all cylinders against Cheektowaga in week one. Tonawanda was tied, 20-20 late in the first half when the wheels fell off.
Tonawanda has been outscored 74-26 since what seems like a lifetime ago when quarterback Clayton Hess was rushing through a Cheektowaga defense — he had three rushing touchdowns in the game.
Warriors coach Rob Gross has been disappointed with his team’s lack of execution and is looking for everyone to get back to the fundamentals of the game.
”We need to get better at the basics,” Gross said. “Some football games have breakdowns in one area, but when they’re widespread on offense, defense and special teams, those small mistakes become magnified. We need to do everything better.”
Gross said his team had a great week of practice and guys seem to responding well. He’s run practice at game speed all week and many players are having breakthroughs.
Maryvale dominated Amherst last week behind the Connelly Cup-level play of quarterback Michael Wawrzyniak. Gross knows his team is in for quite a challenge.
”They’re a great team and well coached,” Gross said. “They had an impressive win against Amherst, they have one of best quarterbacks in Western New York, and they like to hit.”
Gross said the key to Tonawanda keeping the game close is execution on both sides of the ball. The Warriors also have to force Maryvale into long drives.
Sweet Home at Kenmore West, 2 p.m. Saturday
The Panthers can score on offense, and they can score in bunches. Just ask North Tonawanda and Kenmore East, who have been Sweet Home’s first two victims this season.
Kenmore West is next in line to try to end Sweet Home’s 53-game Section IV winnings streak and coach Rich Harris knows how difficult a test his team has in store for itself. Ken West is young on both sides of the ball.
“The key is limiting the mistakes,” Harris said. “We have to hope they make more than us. You get two teams like this up against each other and each mistake becomes bigger. Both teams played them close to the vest but they made mistakes and Sweet Home capitalized on them.”
Harris was happy with his team’s play against Hutch-Tech last week, and said the Engineers were a good warmup for the Panthers because they simulate Sweet Home’s speed a bit.
Junior quarterback Adam Fron will make his third start for the Blue Devils and Harris was extremely pleased with the progress he made in his second game.
Fron threw for 101 yards on 8 of 12 passing and a passing touchdown. He also rushed for 47 yards and had a touchdown on the ground.
”He came full circle and it was like 180 degrees from Jamestown to Hutch-Tech,” Harris said. “They blitzed us like crazy and Adam did a great job with his hot reads and he’s coming around. He read the option well, running eight to 10 option plays against hutch, and all for positive yards.”
St. Francis at St. Joe’s, 2 p.m. Saturday
Last season St. Francis ended the Marauders bid for the Monsignor Martin Championship.
St. Joe’s coach Dennis Gilbert said his guys have had the Red Raiders circled on their calendar since February. He has no problem with that as long as come Saturday they play smart football.
“I think it’s phenomenal that they play with emotion but they have to learn to harness it,” Gilbert said. “I want to get them to channel it and be positive and i think it’s tremendous. They have a lot of passion.”
Gilbert said his squad has been going hard in practice this week in anticipation of Saturday, so much so that he and his coaches had to ask them to tone it down a bit. He’s expecting a physical game everybody is jacked up and ready to play.
Gilbert said he always expects his team to score points and he’s going to try an utilize the speed at the skill positions to beat the Red Raiders.
Ilo Noble and Nigel Davis are the players to watch in the open field, and junior quarterback Tyler Hill will look to take another step forward against St. Francis.
Cardinal O’Hara at St. Mary’s, 1 p.m. Saturday
The Hawks are 0-2 and searching for their offense. Last week Cardinal O’Hara lost 35-8 against Batavia and coach Angelo Sciandra is trying to find a way to change his team’s fortunes.
”We’re having trouble scoring points,” Sciandra said. “We’re just not winning enough individual battles. We have to find a way to move the ball more effectively.”
One big problem for the Hawks was the loss of Pat Castile and Zach Glowicki before the first game of the season. The combo was supposed to help O’Hara ignite its passing game and throw a new wrinkle into its attack.
Instead, quarterback Anthony DiFrancesco has been left to do all the heavy lifting and Sciandra said that eventually teams would start to limit his effectiveness.
”Anthony is a special type of kid. As time goes on it’s going to get harder for him if we don’t get more weapons,” Sciandra said. “I’m sure St. Mary’s is going to focus on us. I’m doing everything I can to get the ball in his hands.”
Sciandra said St. Mary’s will be another tough challenge and he thinks they boast one of the best quarterbacks in Western New York: Nick Malone. He expects Glowicki back against St. Joe’s next week, but Castile is likely out for the season.
Niagara-Wheatfield at Kenmore East, 2 p.m. Saturday
Both Niagara-Wheatfield and Ken East are in search of their first win of the season. Only one team will get it this weekend.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 41-6 thumping against Sweet Home and are looking to get back on track after a strong week one effort against Grand Island.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda Sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.