St. Joe’s, the area’s No. 1 large school football team, will get its biggest test of the season on Saturday against Section V powerhouse Aquinas.
Rochester Aquinas ascended to the top of the New York State Sportswriters’ Class AA poll after a 3-0 win over Canisius two weeks ago. The Lil’ Irish added an impressive victory over Youngstown Ursuline (Ohio) last Saturday.
Tonight Depew (3-0) hosts the comeback kids of Alden (3-0) in a showdown of unbeaten teams. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Last Saturday, the Marauders buried Cardinal O’Hara, 53-16, as sophomore quarterback Mike McCarthy threw for 257 yards, completing 7 of 9 passes and three touchdowns, including a stunning 98-yard strike to Tyler Hill just after St. Joe’s had taken possession after a successful goal-line stand.
Senior Nigel Davis rushed for 94 yards on just five carries and two scores, while senior Cordell Owens had eight tackles and a fumble recovery.
St. Joe’s starters rested for most of the second half and they’ll need all their energy against an Aquinas squad that is carried by its defense.
The Lil’ Irish shut out Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Canisius, which was ranked No. 1 in the state at the time, in back-to-back weeks, then gave up a field goal to Youngstown Ursuline last week in a 29-3 victory. Aquinas has outscored its opponents 64-3.
Much has been written about Aquinas’ move to a spread offense because of the passing ability of 6-foot-3, 200-pound sophomore quarterback Jake Zembiec, one of the nation’s top players in his class, who has already drawn interest from Syracuse, Notre Dame and Georgia. But Aquinas went to the basics last week against Ursuline.
Running backs Luch Pietropaolo and Donato Clemente ran for two touchdowns. Of 260 yards of total offense by the Lil’ Irish, 215 came on the ground.
Meanwhile, Depew is coming off a huge Class B South win last Friday night over Springville.
Rodney Turner, a 5-foot-8, 182-pound tailback, rushed for a tough 153 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns as the Wildcats improved to 3-0.
Alden seems to come up with huge plays down the stretch to avoid defeat.
For the second game in a row, Alden pulled out a victory in the final seconds, this time with a 29-22 win against Hutch-Tech. Austin Hopcia caught an 11-yard pass from Brian Stoldt with 19 seconds left to push the Bulldogs to 3-0.
Two weeks ago, it was sophomore tailback Lyle Grant who caught a 15-yard TD pass with 47 seconds left in a win at Eden.
At 7 p.m., there is a Class C North showdown of two historic powers as Cleveland Hill plays at Lackawanna.
• Class AA has a matchup of unbeatens with Lancaster making the trip to Jamestown’s Strider Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
• Another annual clash is on the schedule, this time in Class D, as defending state champion Randolph plays fellow Class D superpower Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake at 7 p.m.
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