Canisius was not sharp last week and paid the price in absorbing a thumping at the hands of Aquinas in Rochester.
In that defeat, the Crusaders turned it over on two of its first three possessions and never found their mojo in the battle between state powers.
Fast forward six days, it's safe to say the Crusaders learned from their mistakes. They started out fast and were crisp from the opening kickoff Thursday at New Era Field. As a result, Canisius earned the top seed for the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association playoffs.
The Crusaders secured that by claiming the regular-season title in convincing fashion with a 38-9 rout of St. Francis. Canisius took the lead for good on the first offensive play of the contest and cruised from there in this rematch of the past two league playoff championship games. The Crusaders scored the game's first 28 points en route to capturing their sixth straight regular-season title.
"Last week we obviously didn't take care of business," Canisius coach Rich Robbins said. "The kids were really anxious to get back to practice this week … to come out here and have a good performance. I was very pleased with how we started fast and really jumped on them early. Offense defense and special teams, everybody just did a great job tonight."
Off to the races: Canisius wasted little time turning this game into a track meet.
Joe Jamison took the opening handoff from quarterback Jayce Johnson and raced 75 yards to the house pretty much untouched.
Teammate Joel Nicholas only touched the ball four times during the first half, but he scored on three of them. He raced 35 yards on the Crusaders' fourth offensive play, flaunting his sprinter speed on a run down the left sideline to make it 13-0. He scored again on a 23 yard run later in the quarter, breaking a tackle and burning the rest of the defense once he turned the right edge.
Nicholas, whose older brother Desmond received a track scholarship to University of Michigan, added his third TD on a 6-yard run with 80 seconds left in the first half.
Filling the void: Nicholas finished with six carries for 75 yards. Jamison, also only had four touches, finishing with 103 yards.
Both have handled the work load at running back since the Crusaders lost starter Kenyatta Huston to an injury in Week Four.
"Having those guys as a 1-2 punch in the backfield has been great for us," Robbins said. "Joel is a fast kid but he's also a physical kid. He and Joe run bigger than their weight. When we get Kenyatta back, having all three in the playoffs will be great."
Who's that kicker: The mystery player wearing No. 88 who kicked a field goal for St. Francis to pull the Red Raiders within 28-3 during the second quarter was none other than running back/defensive lineman Jacob Miller. He's not listed as wearing that number on the team roster at Max Preps' website.
He'd score once more, catching a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.
Defense, defense: Canisius' defense prevented the Red Raiders from getting a first down until it had a 21-0 lead. For the game, Jamison finished with seven tackles, while Ray Miranda led the unit with eight.
Halftime stats: Canisius had 275 yards, all but 56 coming via the rush. In addition to Jamison and Nicholas, Johnson rushed five times for 47 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown for the Crusaders early in the second quarter to make it 28-0.
St. Francis finished with 128 yards in the opening 24 minutes, with quarterback Dawson Tyger running nine times for 78 yards.
Records: Canisius is 6-2, 4-0 in league. St. Francis falls to 3-5, 2-1 in league.
Rankings: Canisius is ranked second among large schools in the News poll and 16th in the state poll. St. Francis is ranked No. 8 in the News poll.
Next: Playoffs for both teams. Canisius is the No. 1 seed. St. Francis is two and both receive a bye into the semifinals on either Nov. 10-11.
Playoff seeding: St. Joe's will be a No. 3 seed and face No. 6 St. Mary's at 2 p.m. Nov. 4. Bishop Timon-St. Jude visits Cardinal O'Hara on the same day for a 2 p.m. quarterfinal clash.