Who: Canisius Crusaders (8-3) vs. Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders (9-2)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Canisius High School's Stransky Complex in West Seneca
Web cast: news12varsity.com
Rankings: Canisius is ranked No. 2 in the News Large Schools poll and 10th in the New York Sportswriters Class AA poll. Stepinac is ranked ninth.
Canisius in the final: The Crusaders are 2-0 having beaten Stepinac in 2014 (23-10) and Cardinal Hayes in 2016 (50-44).
Stepinac in final: The Crusaders are 1-1. They defeated St. Francis in 2015 (42-22).
Coaches: Canisius, Rich Robbins, seventh season (62-17). Stepinac, Mike O'Donnell, 29th season (180-34-1).
Canisius key players and stats: Sr. QB Jayce Johnson (113-201-1583-16 TDs passing; 102-543-13 TDs rushing), Jr. RB/LB Joe Jamison (87-704-11 TDs; 68 tackles, 13.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 2 INTs, 1 FR), Sr. WR Paul Woods (41-577-9 TDs passing), Sr. WR R.J. Brandon (16-332-3 TDs), Sr. LB Raymond Miranda (75 tackles, 13.0 TFL), Jr. LB/RB Joel Nicholas (57 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks; 37-347-7 TDs rushing).
Stepinac key players and stats: Sr. QB Mike Nicosia (147-226-2527-27 TDs; 75-250-5 TDs rushing), Sr. TB/WR/CB Atrilleon ‘ Trill' Williams (443 all-purpose yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs), Sr. WR Alex Thomas (39-964-8), Sr. WR Tyler Winston (34-527-5 TDs), So. LB Kevin McKenna (70 tackles), Jr. LB Kevin Gray (103 tackles).
How they got here: The top-seeded Crusaders defeated rival St. Joe's 22-14 last week in the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association championship game at New Era Field. Johnson rushed for two touchdowns, while Joe Jamison's 26-yard strip-and-fumble-return touchdown 48 seconds into the fourth quarter broke a 14-14 tie.
Trill Williams accounted for four touchdowns and had 188 all-purpose yards in the CHSFL final to lead Stepinac past St. Anthony's (L.I.), 47-22.
Pre-snap read: Fast, skilled and physical meets fast, skilled and physical in this one.
Canisius will need to keep Stepinac's speedy playmakers on the outside and in the back field in check. Woods and Keenan Ollison should be busy as Crusaders quarterback Nicosia likes to go vertical as he's the school's all-time passing leader. Stepinac also likes to rotate in fresh players at running back and has the depth to do it.
Canisius also has speed that could cause Stepinac fits.
Woods had a party during last year's high-scoring state Catholic final, finishing with 179 receiving yards and three TDs. Johnson had a coming out party at quarterback, completing all but three of his 21 passes for 287 yards and five touchdowns. Kenyatta Huston has go-the-distance speed at running back whenever he touches the ball.
Johnson's ability to make plays with his arm and legs could be the key Saturday. The best defense against a high-scoring team like Stepinac is a good offense that can keep the ball away from the opposition if necessary.
Canisius also must not lose the turnover battle. In each of its losses, it's finished with a minus-turnover ratio.