Angelo Sciandra figured that getting his team ready to play Saturday, following its first defeat in more than two years, might be a bit difficult.
"I think that if we'd have had to play this game on Thursday, we'd have lost," said Sciandra, minutes after a 50-0 pounding of Nichols in the Monsignor Martin Association League A semifinals that was his 100th win as a head coach.
Eight days after their school-record, 25-game winning streak was broken on the road by powerful Steubenville, Ohio, the Hawks chalked up their 24th straight victory over Western New York opposition.
They will be seeking their third straight championship when they meet St. Mary's of Lancaster in the League A title game at 11 a.m. Saturday in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"I think we're ready now," said Hawks running back Reggie Garner, who carried 14 times for 126 yards and two TDs. "But I guess everybody was still thinking about that [Steubenville] game."
O'Hara (9-1), the top-ranked squad in The News' small schools poll, was far from perfect. Four potential Hawks touchdowns, including two of longer than 50 yards, were negated because of penalties.
"Even in the first quarter I didn't think we were very focused," said Sciandra.
Nichols (2-7) helped jump start O'Hara's offense by going for it, deep in its own territory, on fourth down on both of its first two possessions. Jackie Feggans' 9-yard scoring run three minutes into the action came after the Hawks took over on the Vikings' 19.
"I wasn't expecting them to do that, I was getting ready to go get the punt," said Sherman Nelson, who caught 25- and 48-yard scores on the only two completions by Angelo Sciandra IV, and had an interception. "But they went for it and we stopped 'em."
Nelson's first score came on a nice running, one-handed snag late in the first quarter that made it 14-0. His second score, a slant pass over the middle that he turned into a victorious sprint race against four Nichols defenders, made it 35-0 just before halftime and caused a buzz among the 500 or so at Henry J. Lewis Memorial Field in the Town of Tonawanda.
"I saw an opening and just took it," a smiling Nelson said.
O'Hara's defense registered its sixth shutout of the season. Nichols ran 23 plays in the first half and gained just 25 yards.
Robert Addison (16) and Feggans (15) combined for 31 tackles and Markey Turner Jr. blocked a punt that Dawuan Hinklen scooped up and ran for a 44-yard score.
Nichols' Ramsey Gayles rushed for 72 hard-earned yards on 18 carries.
St. Mary's 35, Walsh 0: Joe Eckl carried nine times for 136 yards and two TDs as the Lancers (8-2) scored all their points before halftime and cruised to their fourth consecutive win. Greg Justen threw for 127 yards and two scores -- a 50-yarder to Brandon Barczak and a 47-yarder to Jesse Kelso.