By Matt Parrino email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda football team is getting healthy, but coach Tony Truilizio and the Lumberjacks are hoping it’s not too late to make a run at a playoff spot.
Junior running back Nehemiah Stone will return to the backfield tonight when the Lumberjacks (1-2, 0-2 A North) take to the road to battle Class A North rival Sweet Home (3-0, 2-0 A North) at 2 p.m.
”We’re starting to get everybody healthy, but the tragedy is we don’t know where we stand in the playoff picture. We hope it’s not too late,” Truilizio said. “It’s nice to get him back. If we can get 15 plays out of him for the game that will be a good day.
”He’s coming back from a major knee problem. He’s rehabbed it and he’s done a lot of work on it, but we’re not going to push the limits on it. We don’t want him coming back for one game and then being out for the whole season. We’re going to take it easy on him.”
Linebacker Taylor Mellott is still nursing a knee injury and will not be active for the Jacks, who are facing one of the more high-powered offensive units in Western New York.
Sweet Home, which boasts a 63-game winning streak against Section VI opponents, has a host of weapons at quarterback Kevin Torrillo’s disposal, including running back Jordan Evert and wide receiver Brandon Smiley. Truilizio said it will be important for the Jacks to slow down the Panthers offense if they hope to be successful.
”They have Evert and Smiley who are very deadly for them,” Truilizio said. “We have to play some sound defense, we can’t be intimidated by their speed or the success they have had offensively. In terms of our offense, if we maintain control of the ball and use good, sound clock management it will frustrate them and they won’t get in a rhythm.”
The Jacks have struggled offensively through three games and Truilizio said it’s been due to a number of factors. Worst of all has been consistently losing the field position battle.
”The defensive has made some nice goal line stands but then the offense has to go 90 yards,” he said. “Are there miscues? Absolutely. Is Chris (Woodard) missing some of his reads? Absolutely. It really comes down to a few factors, and one of them is field position. We can’t win the field position battle whatsoever.”
The other spot for concern has been very little production from the wide receiver position. Senior Jake Ferry has had a number of nice catches, but Truilizio said NT needs more production at that spot.
Despite the slow start, Truilizio said his team is going into the Sweet Home game with the intention to win. He said if the team puts everything together it can shock a lot of people today.
”I hate saying this but we’re 0-2 in the division and I don’t think these teams are better than us. I’m not disrespecting when i say that, but I just can’t figure out what it is,” Truilzio said. “It’s still learning and a learning process.”
<\Bz14f”sans-serif”>Kenmore East at Grand Island, 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs (3-0, 2-0 A North) probably weren’t expected to still be perfect after three games this season, but coach Matt Chimera knew that something special was starting to happen at Kenmore East as early as last season.
“We knew a few years ago that we had some good young talent coming up through the pipeline. A couple of those kids, Preston Smith and Connor McMahon, we brought them up to varsity when they were sophomores and we had a tough year. They were two of our better players and they were only sophomores, and we had a lot of injuries that year. I think we ended up going 0-8 that year.
”Last year we brought up a couple more sophomores like Matt Ramarczak, and we knew that the early part of the season would be tough. But as the year went on, we got better, and we won four of our last five games. That momentum has carried into this year.”
Chimera hopes that momentum continues this afternoon when his Bulldogs head out on the road for a clash with Grand Island (3-0, 2-0 A North) for bragging rights within the division.
The Vikings have senior QB Quinn Correo back under center, but seniors Ben Goc (WR) and Domonic Petrilli (DL) are out for the season. Chimera still believes GI will be a tough test for his Bulldogs.
“Grand Island’s always tough. The last time we started 3-0, we played them and we were both undefeated heading into that matchup. We went up 10-0 with four minutes to go and we lost 14-10. That one still kind of pains us,” he said. “They’re always tough to play against, they’re well coached, they’re always physical and I don’t expect anything different this year.”
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
<\Bz14f”sans-serif”>Aquinas at St. Joe’s, 1 p.m.
The Marauders (3-0, 1-0 MMA) have already knocked off one New York State power this season when they beat St. Anthony’s 12-7 in Week One, and now they’ll get a second chance to make a splash against the top-ranked team in the state.
St. Joe’s hosts Rochester’s Aquinas (3-0) this afternoon at 1 p.m. in an early-season, must see game for local high school football fans. The Little Irish outlasted Canisius, 3-0 two weeks ago, making big headlines after the Crusaders were getting some national buzz.
Nigel Davis ran for two touchdowns on five carries for 94 yards in St. Joe’s 53-16 win over Cardinal O’Hara last week.
The Marauders will likely need every burst of speed in their arsenal when they go against the Little Irish today.
O’Hara at Eden, 2 p.m.
The Hawks (1-1, 0-1 MMA) travel to play Eden this afternoon in a non-league tilt.
O’Hara coach Angelo Sciandra said his team needs to put last week’s loss to St. Joe’s behind and be ready to play today at 2 p.m.
“We made some mistakes against St. Joe’s. Do I think it was a 53-16 game? No, I don’t think that should have happened, but it did,” Sciandra said. “We’ve got to live with it, and we’re going to try to build off of the positives from that game. We did some things well, but we made too many mistakes.”
This week Sciandra is hoping his team can limit turnovers to try and knock off the Raiders.
“Eden’s very, very good. They’re very good, and they’re going to be very upset about getting beat by East Aurora last week,” he said. “They’ve got all 22 starters coming back from last year, they went to the Ralph last year. A lot of people were picking them to go to states this year in Class B.
“They’re very disciplined, they’re very big, they’re very strong and tough. It’s a different game than we just played. You go from one extreme to the other extreme, from speed everywhere to a team where they’re going to line up and punch you in the mouth and come right at you. I don’t know if we can handle that. We’ll see.”
<\Iz14f”sans-serif”>— Additional reporting by Tony Fiorello
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