Who: Canisius Crusaders (7-3) vs. St. Joe's Marauders (7-4)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: New Era Field
Tickets: $10 ($7 each when purchased at either school through Friday)
Web cast: onebuffalo.com
Rankings: Canisius is ranked No. 2 in the News Large Schools poll and 13th in the New York Sportswriters Class AA poll. St. Joe's is ranked ninth in the News poll and is among the honorable mentions in the state poll.
Canisius in the final: The Crusaders are 5-3 in title games under the current league playoff format, which began in 2002. They defeated St. Francis, 31-20, in 2016, Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 35-8, in 2014 and also won championships in 2009, 2012 and 2013.
St. Joe's in final: The Marauders are making their first title-game appearance since 2013, when they lost to Canisius, 41-7. Under the current postseason format, St. Joe's is 3-5 all-time in the final – winning championships in 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Coaches: Canisius, Rich Robbins, seventh season (61-17). St. Joe's, Derek Landri, second season (11-11).
Canisius key players and stats: Sr. QB Jayce Johnson (108-190-1516-16 TDs passing; 94-467-11 TDs rushing), Jr. RB/LB Joe Jamison (77-622-11 TDs; 58 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, 1 FR), Sr. WR Paul Woods (39-550-9 TDs passing), Sr. WR R.J. Brandon (16-332-3 TDs), Sr. LB Raymond Miranda (66 tackles, 12.0 TFL), Jr. LB/RB Joel Nicholas (52 tackles, 7.0 sacks; 36-346-7 TDs rushing).
St. Joe's key players and stats: Jr. QB Casey Kelly (60-136-818-13 TDs passing; 114-876-14 TDs rushing), Jr. RB Jaden Lofton (122-1217-9 TDs rushing), Jr. WR/CB Ronald McCarley (13-263-1; 5 INTs, 1 TD), Sr. DE Nick Julian (60 tackles, 20.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks), Sr. C/DT Cam Dabill (27 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Sr. RB Phaybian Livingston (77-596-6 TDs rushing).
How they got here: The top-seeded Crusaders defeated Cardinal O'Hara, 55-16, in the semifinals. In one half of work, Johnson completed 10 of 12 passes for 201 yards. He also rushed for two scores, while Woods caught two of Johnson's three TD passes. Johnson didn't play the second half. Canisius' defense forced four turnovers and recorded seven sacks, Jamison finishing with two.
No. 3 seed St. Joe's advanced by beating second-seeded St. Francis, 18-13, as the Marauders made a game-saving defensive stand with McCarley picking off a pass near the goal line with just over a minute left to preserve the win. He finished with two interceptions in the victory. St. Joe's rushed for 323 of its 371 yards with Lofton rushing 25 times for 155 yards and a touchdown. Kelly also passed for a score and rushed for TD.
Pre-snap read: Both teams must forget about that Week Four meeting at New Era Field where Canisius overwhelmed an ailing St. Joe's team missing several key starters, 55-16.
The Marauders are way healthier now and riding a five-game winning streak. They like to run and have done a lot of that with Lofton, Kelly and Livingston receiving the bulk of the carries. That sets up play action for the strong-armed Kelly to take shots deep. Marauders must protect ball, which they didn't do well in September meeting.
Canisius must use recent history as an example that the regular-season meeting means nothing. Two years ago, the Crusaders crushed St. Francis only to be crushed by the Red Raiders in the championship game. Canisius must control the line to give its playmakers on both sides of the ball a chance to make an impact – especially dual-threat quarterback Johnson.
The strong running attack became stronger last week with the return of speedy Kenyatta Huston, who scored on his first carry in last week's win over O'Hara.
The Crusaders have won eight straight in the rivalry -- their longest streak against St. Joe's. In order to make it nine, they must contain the Marauders' running game and protect the ball. In its three losses, turnovers have led to Canisius' downfall.
St. Joe's special teams must be sharp as Crusaders blocked a punt and had Nicholas return a kick for a TD last week.
What’s next: The champion advances to the New York State Catholic High Schools Athletic Association championship game Nov. 25 at a site still to be determined in Western New York.