After a laudable performance from junior quarterback Pat Angelhow last Friday, the possibility of Joe Montesanti sliding back to wing as a running back when he returned this week from a mild concussion was put into play.
In all likelihood, however, it will be Montesanti under center for North Tonawanda (2-2 overall, 2-2 AA North) when the Jacks visit the Spartans of Williamsville North (2-2, 1-2) at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“He’s played well, but (Angelhow and Montesanti) are just two different kids in terms of his athletic ability and stuff,” coach Eric Jantzi said. “We may use him some in different situations, but we usually don’t have a kid lose a spot because he got injured.”
Jantzi still left open the slight chance of experimenting this weekend and in the final two weeks of the season.
“Maybe on a couple plays here and there we may start doing things a little more creatively as we get a little closer to the playoffs to make people think a little bit more about us defensively,” he said.
Going into the playoffs, Jantzi said he wants opposing teams to prepare for as much as possible.
“But at the same time, I don’t want to water down our play book so we’re the jack of all trades and the master of none,” he said. “We have to be good at our good stuff — our bread and butter stuff.”
Before the Jacks can start thinking about the playoffs, they’ll have to take on a tough Williamsville North squad — one that’s seeking to avenge a 54-22 route to the hands of Kenmore West last Saturday.
No matter who the opponent, Jantzi said NT has to be ready for anything.
“You’d think they’d probably play a little more angry,” Jantzi said of Will North. “I’m sure they weren’t happy with their performance. But we get everybody’s A-game because of the tradition we have and the fact that we won the state championship last year. I’m sure that’s all over their locker room.”
The Spartans have a potentially dangerous passing attack, led by receiver Glenn Gronkowski, whose brothers Rob, Chris and Dan currently play in the NFL for New England, Dallas, and Denver, respectively.
Jantzi said Will North has a “couple nice receivers,” not just Gronkowski, while also adding a formidable rushing attack to the mix as well.
“We’re just going to take some of their big guns out and see what else they have,” he said. “If we have coverage on (their top players), we’ll see what else they can pull out of their hat.”
The Jacks are coming off a stout defensive performance against Riverside last week, relinquishing just 13 points to the Frontiers.
On offense, though, Jantzi pointed out some miscues in the trenches that slowed the Jacks down at times.
“Offensively, I think we took a step beck in terms of line play,” Jantzi said. “I wasn’t real happy with that. We have to get better.”
From this point on, every game is a must-win for the two-loss Jacks — as well as an opportunity to improve in advance of the postseason.
“It’s not so much playoffs, it’s getting seeded for playoffs and getting a decent spot,” Jantzi said. “Points become super critical, because it could very well be four teams with two losses in our division, and if it is, it comes down to points (as the tiebreaker).”
Canisius (4-0) at St. Joe’s (1-3)
One of the oldest and most passionate rivalries in New York State, the Marauders and the Crusaders meet for the 76th time at 2 p.m. Saturday, this time around at the Robert T. Scott Athletic Complex at St. Joe’s.
All the spotlight will be on the Monsignor Martin League AA clash due to Canisius’ emergence as one of the best teams in the state, but Joe’s coach Dennis Gilbert is ready for the challenge.
“We’re excited. We’re going to go out and keep improving,” he said. “We have to go out and take care of the ball and go from there. We have yet to put a complete game together and that’s our focus this week.”
Last weekend the Marauders fell victim to a ton of big plays and untimely turnovers in a 49-21 loss to St. Francis. St. Joe’s surrendered 21 second quarter points, as well as 238 yards on the ground from running back, Akeel Lynch of St. Francis.
Gilbert told his inexperience squad not to fret this week, despite the multitude of the weekend’s matchup.
“We’re learning something new every week,” Gilbert said. “We’re so young. We talked about it as coaches, we’re making progress daily. We’re going to go through some of these things.”
Crusader QB Travis Eman leads one of the most prolific attacks in the area. Last Saturday, he accounted for four scores in a win over Pennsylvania power, Cathedral Prep.
“A guy like Eman, he’s a great athlete, and is a very good quarterback with both his arm and his feet,” Gilbert said. “What concerns me more are his feet. He’s like Houdini; he does a tremendous job of escaping.”
Gilbert said if his Marauders take care of the football and contain Eman, he likes their chances.
Homecoming festivities for St. Joe’s will wrap up today when former standout Naaman Roosevelt makes a visit to the Marauders’ pep rally to add a few words of wisdom before his alma mater’s big game.
Maryvale (1-3) at Tonawanda (0-4)
The Warriors surrendered a second-half lead and left the field having given up three unanswered scores in the final frame to drop a 38-15 decision to Class B North foe Albion last Friday.
Although Tonawanda has yet to win a game in two seasons, coach Rob Gross assured one thing this week during practice, “this team hasn’t packed it in.”
In preparation for Senior Day at THS, it was fitting for Gross to point out his group of seniors for keeping the Warriors positive in spite of some things not going their way this season.
“The seniors have shown tremendous character and the underclassmen are following their lead, literally,” Gross said of his seniors, led by captains Steve Stich, Ryan McInnis and Brian McCarthy.
Maryvale offers another big, athletic challenge for Tonawanda, Gross said.
“They’re extremely well coached, and they’re a strong, fast team,” he said.
Just two spots ahead of the Warriors in the standings, Maryvale is second to Tonawanda for most points allowed this season with 109.
Gross added that he hopes the THS seniors and the rest of the Warriors are rewarded for their hard work Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Flyers at Clint Small Stadium.
“The seniors have bought into every aspect of the program,” Gross said. “It would have been very easy for them to be skeptical or possibly not to buy in, and they have shown faith — faith in the system, faith in the program, faith in what we’re trying to do and I’m a firm believer, that at some point, faith will be rewarded.”
Kenmore West (3-1) at Hutch-Tech (0-4)
After another scintillating performance last week, the Blue Devils’ running back tandem of Martin Bailey and Marcus Lobdell will look to keep the momentum against the last place Engineers, who’ve allowed a whopping 156 points through four games this season.
Ken West coach Rich Harris has been preaching to his club all week to stay focused.
“I’ve been trying to tell them this is business as usual,” Harris said. “It’s not easy being on top because everyone’s going to bring their A-game. I’ve been on the other side of the stick, too. When you’re playing the best, you have to play your best being the underdog.”
The first-place Blue Devils had a near-flawless game last Saturday, hanging 54 points on Williamsville North in a 54-22 win.
Bailey torched the Spartan defense for 216 yards rushing, and tied a school record with five touchdowns. Bailey is now among a heralded group of four that includes Sam Gagliardi, James Mallory and Tim Hersey to accomplish that feat for the Blue and Black.
“The execution was outstanding,” Harris said.
Tech, which was shutout 35-0 by second-place Lockport last weekend, could be a possible trap game for the Blue Devils.
“We need to make sure we focus on doing the things that got us to where we are,” Harris said.
The Engineers host the Blue Devils at 2 p.m. Saturday at All High Stadium.
Kenmore East (1-3) at Starpoint (1-3)
The Bulldogs are hoping to regroup after a Week Four loss to Williamsville East.
Ken East coach Matt Chimera was hoping to carry some momentum off a 13-7 win over Niagara-Wheatfield in the third week of the season, but the Bulldogs suffered another setback.
This week, the Bulldogs have to deal with a formidable Starpoint squad that gave both Grand Island and Sweet Home fits this season thus far this season.
The Spartans boast a strong running game off the legs of Tyler Robinson. In a 28-13 loss to No. 1 ranked Western New York large school, Sweet Home, Robinson ran for 158 yards, including a 90-yard score.
Robinson ripped off scores of 73 and 79 yards last week as well in a close 28-21 loss to Grand Island.
Both the Ken East and Starpoint defenses sit at the bottom of the division with 106 and 108 points allowed, respectively.
Cardinal O’Hara (3-1) at St. Mary’s (3-0)
The Hawks will travel to Lancaster Saturday to take on the Lancers in the annual Monsignor Martin Association League A rivalry game.
Cardinal O’Hara coach Angelo Sciandra admits he doesn’t need to add fuel to rile up his troops to play their Monsignor Martin counterparts.
“The kids know it’s the St. Mary’s game, they don’t need to hear it from me. They probably get more hyped up about it among themselves,” he said following the Hawks 27-14 win over Timon last week on homecoming.
Tailback Robert Davis continues to run wild in attempt to legitimize himself as a Connolly Cup candidate.
Last week, he rushed for 258 yards on 18 attempts and scored four TDs for the Hawks.
The Lancers, under first-year coach Dave Hershey, employ a Pro-I, Twin-I offensive set, one that his father Tom Hershey used when he was at the helm of the Canisius College football program.
The Hawks will likely be without their best all-around player, Brandon Lyles. The fullback and linebacker sprained his ankle last Saturday, and needed to be helped off the field.
Kickoff between O’Hara and Mary’s is set for 2 p.m.