By Anthony Fiorello email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — After starting the 2013 season with three-straight wins, outscoring opponents by an average score of 36-14, the St. Joe's football team, by its standards, fell on hard times.
During a five-game stretch between Week Four through Week Eight, the Marauders were without up to 10 starters on offense due to injuries, including sophomore quarterback Mike McCarthy, and were scoring a little more than 16 points per game.
Marauders coach Dennis Gilbert said his team has had to make due with a patchwork offense, and that had an enormous impact on the team's fortunes.
“It was kind of like the Red Cross around here the last few weeks. Not having those guys around the last few games was tough,” he said. “McCarthy missed about two weeks due to a concussion, and since he came back the day before the St. Mary's game, he hasn't practiced fully. This week has been his first full week of practice since he was injured, and I can see the difference already. He's ready.”
The Marauders will need more healthy bodies in their lineup if they are aiming to score points against Canisius today. The Crusaders enter the matchup against St. Joe's having allowed just 36 points in eight games, and are ranked seventh in New York State, according to maxpreps.com.
“They're very aggressive and quick on defense,” Gilbert said. “They're constantly changing what they're doing on that side of the ball and that makes it tough to get a good read on them. How we adjust to the different schemes that we see is going to be critical for us.”
Despite the recent slump, many individual players have performed well thus far for the Marauders. Senior running back Nigel Davis surpassed former Marauders quarterback Chad Kelly's school record for career touchdowns earlier in the season and leads the team with 862 yards and 10 touchdowns. McCarthy has thrown for 782 yards and seven touchdowns, with most of his production coming in just six full games.
In addition, the Marauders would love nothing more than to beat their cross-town rival. The rivalry between St. Joe's and Canisius dates back nearly a century and the team has won four of its last five games against the Crusaders. The Marauders have also won 47 of 81 matchups against the Crusaders going back to 1921.
Gilbert said that the matchup was circled on the team's calendar from the get-go.
“Our games against Canisius are always big. They are how our seniors' legacies are defined,” Gilbert said. “Every year, they measure themselves up to Canisius and how they perform, so we're definitely excited heading into this one. It should definitely be a good battle this weekend.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m at the Robert J. Stransky Memorial Athletic Complex.