Tonawanda News — How big is St. Joe's-Canisius? Rivals.com is in town to document this year's contest and Marauders coach Dennis Gilbert said that of 35,000 rivalries across the country ,the annual local showdown between the two catholic schools was chosen as one of the most unique.
For the players that will take the field this afternoon at 1 p.m., Gilbert said that it's their biggest day of the year — "Christmas morning for a football player at St. Joe's."
The Marauders (7-3, 3-1 MMAA) are finally healthy and junior quarterback Dennis Gilbert Jr. is back and 100 percent. Coach Gilbert said today will be the first game all season where everyone is healthy and that's bad news for Canisius. Nigel Davis also returns after missing two games due to a bruised shoulder and Gilbert said he's chomping at the bit to get back out on the field and make plays.
"(Nigel's) been All-Catholic since he was a freshman," Gilbert said. "His numbers this season don't even come close to showing the impact he has on a game. With him on one side and Illo (Noble) on the other — when we're in our spread set, and you have Rod (Payne) in the backfield, pick your poison. I think we'll be very dynamic."
Noble has been one of the best offensive players in Western New York this season. The dual-threat (receiver/running back) can line up outside or in the backfield and give defenses headaches for four quarters. He's rushed for 1,019 yards and has 15 touchdowns on the season.
On the other side of the ball, Canisius has its own dangerous weapon in running back Qadree Ollison. The junior has 16 touchdowns on the season and has rushed for 1,107 yards.
Gilbert said Ollison is his defense's No. 1 priority.