Tonawanda News

September 13, 2013

Jacks host Grand Island in A North showdown

By Ernie Green scoreboard@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Lumberjacks amassed 460 yards of total offense and dropped 48 points on Lake Shore in their 48-28 Week One victory.

The sledding appears to get tougher this week, as the Jacks return home to face the Grand Island Vikings, a team which dominated defensively in a 16-6 win over Hamburg to open the season. The Class A North battle begins at 7 p.m. Friday at George Vetter Stadium.

Against Lake Shore, NT fell behind 20-13, before going on a 35-8 run to close out the contest. NT coach Tony Truilizio was at first concerned with the way his team reacted to Lake Shore taking a 20-13 lead into halftime, including a 20-point second quarter, but was impressed at the way they came out in the second half.

“I told the kids at halftime there’s going to be big plays in a football game and you have to deal with it,” he said. “We didn’t do a good job of reacting in the first half to that, but in the second half we just came out and played like we knew we could play.”

Leading the Lumberjacks charge was dual-threat junior quarterback Chris Woodward. Woodward, who was nominated as a Week One top performer after posting 204 yards passing and 110 rushing, including three touchdowns on the ground. Truilizio thinks Woodward is just scratching the surface of his talents.

“He’s good, but we would like to get even more consistency out of him,” he said. “When that happens, we will truly be able to call him great.”

Truilizio, while recognizing Grand Island’s great defensive effort against Hamburg, feels his team can move the ball against them.

“They had a great effort against a great Hamburg team,” he said. “But we feel like we have a good offense too, and when we execute we can move the ball on anybody.”

Another bright spot for Truilizio was his defense. The starting 11 allowed just 14 points, which was a far cry from last year, where teams were lighting up the scoreboard on the young, inexperienced squad.

“People need to realize that last year’s team only had two players with any sort of varsity starting experience,” Truilizio said. “The rest were from the JV or backups. This year, we have 12 returning starters. It’s like night and day for the program.”

Not all the news coming out of the first game was good for the Lumberjacks, however. Linebacker Taylor Mellott strained his knee, and according to Truilizio, is out for Friday night. Nehemiah Stone, expected to be a major part of the offense, will be out at least another week with a strained ACL of his own.

“And there’s some other kids with some of the usual bumps and bruises,” Truilizio said. “We gotta stay healthy to have a chance this year.”

Although it’s only the second game of the season, a win versus Grand Island would be huge. For starters, it would put them in the drivers seat for the Class A North title, and a return to the playoffs. It would also be a benchmark win for a program attempting to restore itself to prominence after a 4-5 campaign in 2012.

“We have a proud tradition here at NT of making the playoffs year in and year out,” Truilzio said. “We want to get back as soon as possible. They’re a great team, but if we do what we’re capable of and do all the little things well, I think we can compete with anybody.

“We want to be a team everybody in the community can be proud of.”