Tonawanda News — Everybody is talking about Canisius in Western New York high school football circles, and rightfully so. The Crusaders have one of the most talented teams in the state.
But St. Joe’s coach Dennis Gilbert believes the boys in maroon and white have enough weapons to make their own noise this season.
“The nature of high school football is that you’re going to lose guys every year,” said Gilbert about his Marauders who graduated four starters on the offensive line from last season. “We’re going to have some adjustments to make up front, but we have the great equalizer and that’s 10 guys that run 4.7 or better (40-yard dash).
“We have so much speed we’ll have to find a way to get guys the ball. There won’t be a tired guy on the field for us at the skill positions because we’re at least two deep across the board on both sides of the ball.”
St. Joe’s had a disappointing end to its season in 2012 in the semifinals of the MMAA playoffs against Bishop Timon, but there is a lot of excitement around this year’s squad.
Along with the four big guys on the line, St. Joe’s said goodbye to playmaker and News’ first team selection Ilo Noble, who rushed for 1,359 yards last season and 14 touchdowns. The Marauders will look to senior Nigel Davis to replace the production, and Gilbert feels he is ready.
“Nigel is the freak. When he was growing up his nickname was the nightmare,” Gilbert said. “He played at about 70 percent last year because of a hip problem that he finally got squared away. He’s gotten so much quicker and he’s 12 pounds lighter this year. He makes moves in practice that I haven’t seen in two years. He’s got a glow on his face and he’s really excited.”