They've both played one of the best programs in the country. They've both played one of the best programs in the state. On Saturday, they finally play each other.
St. Francis and Canisius meet in the first Monsignor Martin Association game of the season for both teams Saturday in a rematch of last year's championship game. Defending champion St. Francis (0-4) plays the Crusaders (2-2) at 2 p.m. at Canisius' Robert J. Stransky Memorial Athletic Complex at 2885 Clinton St., West Seneca.
Canisius moved into the No. 7 spot in this week's large school poll after a 14-12 home loss to defending state Class A champion Aquinas. St. Francis also played Aquinas tough at home in a 35-20 loss. Canisius opened the season with a 40-0 home loss to Cleveland's St. Ignatius, which beat visiting St. Francis, 49-14, two weeks later.
St. Francis, which is coming off a bye week, lost its opener to Long Island's Holy Trinity (20-13) and lost its last game to Ohio's Cardinal Mooney (13-0).
"Obviously we think we should be 3-1, but we made too many mistakes and weren't able to capitalize on some opportunities," said St. Francis coach Jerry Smith. "Against Aquinas we self-destructed and they took advantage. The kids have been disappointed in what we've done the last four weeks. But we competed against Mooney, we've had two good weeks of practice and we're looking forward to playing Canisius."
St. Francis didn't allow a point to Canisius last season, winning, 48-0, in the regular season and, 21-0, in the final. But Canisius returned several top players, including some talented linemen, and had some key transfers like backs Ricky Pringle (St. Joe's) and James Gaines (Williamsville North).
"They've got transfers that definitely helped change the complexion of the team," said Smith. "[Quarterback Sean] Brady is very good and very accurate, and they definitely compete. They come after you and play hard and they're playing with confidence."
Canisius had big wins over the Harvard Cup's McKinley (49-0) and Grover Cleveland (38-16) between its losses.
"[St. Francis is] going to be coming off a bye, and they'll be ready to go," said Canisius second-year coach Brandon Harris. "We're not a secret, we're not going to sneak up on anyone. We're just going to have to play our best game. We have to match what we did [against Aquinas], and play well, and I think we'll be all right."
On the Web
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