The St. Joseph’s Marauders and the Canisius Crusaders take the field in a pivotal Monsignor Martin Association (MMA) matchup. This game has more on the line than just bragging rights, the MMA title is at stake. If the Marauders can pull off the win then they will claim a share of the MMA title. If the Crusaders win then they will win the MMA outright. If the game is anything like last season’s MMA semifinal battle, then I think we are all in for a spectacular show. St. Joe’s defeated Canisius 48-47 in stunning fashion last year. Late in the 4th, St. Joe’s trailed 47-40 when quarterback Chad Kelly found his fullback Rodrick Payne in the end zone with less than 20 seconds left. Instead of going for the tie, head coach Dennis Gilbert elected to go for 2 and the win. The Marauders converted and left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Crusaders. Given last season’s finish and the MMA title on the line, it’s no wonder that the 81st installment of this rivalry may be one of the biggest yet.
The St. Joe’s Marauders enter Saturday’s game with a 7-1 record. The Marauders are looking to keep their winning streak alive against the Crusaders. St. Joe’s has won the last 4 games in the series after losing 5 straight from 2007-2009. The Marauder’s offense will be led by a three-headed rushing attack. Junior Rodrick Payne, senior Ilo Noble and junior Nigel Davis will all see carries out of the backfield. The trio has rushed for almost 2,000 yards on the season and 22 touchdowns. Noble has rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season to go with his 11 touchdowns. When the Marauders do pass it will be either Dennis Gilbert Jr. or Tyler Hill, both juniors. Much of the success in the running game can be credited to the big offensive line, which includes the 6’7” transfer Tremaine Shelton at tight end. Defensively, the line is anchored by the seniors Dylan Hall and Frank Spina. Hall has recorded 8 sacks on the season. Payne, Vincent Gregory, Cordell Owens and Jack Bargnesi all form the linebacking unit. Davis and senior Mike Hubert will patrol the secondary. Davis has 5 interceptions on the year at cornerback. The Marauders currently lead the all-time series against Canisius, which dates back to 1921, 47-30-3.
The Canisius Crusaders have rebounded nicely from last year’s disappointing 4-7 season. The Crusaders bring a perfect 8-0 record into Saturday’s game against St. Joe’s. Junior Tyler Mascio, a transfer from Lake Shore, has stepped in and played for the Crusaders at quarterback this season. Mascio has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has had plenty of weapons at his disposal in the backfield and at wide receiver. Junior Qadree Ollison has stepped up into the starting position at running back. He has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. Senior Denzel Benton has been a big play threat all season long. He has 31 catches for over 600 yards and 7 touchdowns for the Crusaders this season. The passing game plus the play of big Ryan Hunter on the offensive line is a big reason why the running attack has been so successful for the Crusaders thus far. Hunter will also line up on the defensive line. The linebacking corps will be led by seniors Nick Carbone and Dan Minogue, along with junior Mike Sharpe. Minogue and Carbone each have 2 sacks on the season. The secondary includes senior Kyle Abernathy, junior Ryan Richards and sophomore Josh Huffman. Abernathy has 7 interceptions on the season to go with Huffman’s 5. The Crusaders are looking to avenge last season’s losses and claim the MMA title outright.
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