BY TYLER CADY
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — St. Joe’s rolled over Cardinal O’Hara 35-0 when the teams first met on Sept. 22, but now they’ll meet again with a shot at the semifinals of the MMAA playoffs on the line.
In the first matchup, O’Hara (2-7, 0-5 MMAA) let the Marauders get off to a fast start, with Ilo Noble taking his first three carries 62, 60 and 66 yards for scores to give St. Joe’s (7-2, 3-2 MMAA) a 21-0 first quarter lead. Noble finished the game with 236 yards rushing.
Despite the result of the first matchup coach Dennis Gilbert isn’t taking the rematch lightly.
“This is win or go home, a one and done situation,” Gilbert said. “When we played earlier in the season we had our way, but you’ve got to throw that stuff out the window. What happened before doesn’t mean anything. On any day you can make mistakes and they can take advantage. You’ve got to play like there’s no tomorrow.”
The Marauders are looking to take their own advice on throwing regular season performances out the window, as a win this week would set up a rematch with Bishop Timon, who St. Joe’s lost to earlier in the year. Gilbert thinks his team is looking forward to the fresh start this week.
“They’re jacked up right now for sure,” Gilbert said. “We’ve talked all week that it’s not often in life that you get a second chance. The playoffs give us a second chance. We’ve got to take care of business this week against O’Hara to give ourselves a chance to make up for our two slip-ups this year. If we win we get to play Timon and avenge our loss to to them. If we beat them we hopefully get to answer the bell against Canisius on our other slip up.”
To get there they’ll first have to take out the Hawks who come into the contest with some momentum after beating Nichols 15-6 last week. In the first matchup, quarterback Anthony DiFrancesco rushed for 136 yards and threw for 49 more.
St. Joe’s has a number of capable players on its defense though. Rod Payne averages over 11 tackles per game, and had 17 in the loss to Canisius last week. The Marauders will rely on Payne to keep DiFrancesco out of the end zone as the Marauders did in the first matchup.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at St. Joe’s Robert T. Scott Athletic Field.