-- St. Joe’s Marauders (1-2) at V-Aquinas Little Irish (3-0), 3 p.m. at Wegmans Stadium. St. Joe’s becomes the next Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association member to try its luck against perennial state power and defending Section V Class AA champion Aquinas.
The Maruaders have dropped a pair of close ones to McDowell (Pa.) and McQuaid Jesuit of Rochester since opening with a 15-point win at Bennett.
Keys for St. Joe’s will be protecting the ball, and its experienced line winning the battle in the trenches.
The Marauders gained more yards (426-423) than McQuaid last week, including 245 on the ground, but committed four turnovers with one of the takeaways returned for a TD by the Knights. Jimmy Scott carried 14 times for 75 yards for St. Joe’s, which had four ball carriers rush for at least 37 or more yards.
Aquinas is coming off a 35-24 win at Canisius, its first triumph at the Stransky Complex since 2010.
Though the Little Irish played that one without senior playmaker Caron Robinson (who is sidelined with an injury), they showed they had no shortage of weapons, with others filling the void. They scored twice in 21 seconds late in second quarter to turn a close game into a rout (89-yard touchdown catch and a 55-yard fumble return TD).
Generating a pass rush on sophomore quarterback Tyler Szalkowski is a must as he showed he can pick apart a defense when given time in the pocket. He completed 12-of-17 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Aquinas won last year’s meeting with St. Joe’s, 65-56, in a game played at New Era Field.
Speaking of the home of the Buffalo Bills, the Marauders meet rival Canisius at New Era on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. That will be the first of three MMHSAA games to take place at New Era.
The others feature Bishop Timon-St. Jude facing Cardinal O’Hara on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. and Timon versus St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Oct. 19. Tickets can be purchased for all games at respective schools of the participants.
All games will be streamed live via Onebuffalo.com as well as New Era Field’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Other top games this Saturday include:
-- Cardinal O’Hara (2-1) at St. Francis Red Raiders (1-2), 1 p.m. O’Hara totes two-game winning streak to Polian Family Field, where it will be the guest for Frannies’ annual homecoming. St. Francis looking to build off last week’s 42-40 comeback win in which it rallied on the road from a 21-point deficit behind solid play of sophomore quarterback Jake Ritts.
-- Dunkirk Marauders (3-0) at Newfane Panthers (1-2), 2 p.m. A long road trip for Dunkirk, the News’ sixth-ranked small school. Newfane in must-win mode if it wants to keep hope alive for the playoffs in rugged Class B after dropping last week’s 7-6 nail-biter to Tonawanda.
-- Roy-Hart Rams (0-3) vs. Cleveland Hill Golden Eagles (2-1), 2 p.m. at Maryvale. This will be Cleve Hill’s final game at Maryvale as the Golden Eagles are set to return to playing home games on their renovated Carl J. Kuras Field Sept. 29.
On the web
At buffalonews.com, check out Jonah Bronstein’s coverage of the Pioneer Panthers versus Cheektowaga Warriors contest from Friday night.
Also, in case you missed it, check out the Football Friday feature on Niagara Wheatfield quarterback Jordan Parks.
News Football Polls
Brackets indicate first-place votes
*–Indicates tie in voting
Rank School (Class) Record Points LW
1 West Seneca West  (A) 3-0 94 1
2 Lancaster  (AA) 3-0 92 3
3 Starpoint (A) 3-0 64 5
4 South Park (A) 3-0 62 6
5 Canisius  1-2 51 4
6 Williamsville North (AA) 2-1 44 2
7 Orchard Park (AA) 3-0 42 8
8 West Seneca East (A) 3-0 33 8
9 Bennett (AA) 2-1 20 NR
10 Niagara Wheatfield (A) 3-0 18 NR
Others receiving votes: St. Joe’s 8, St. Francis 8, Grand Island 7, Clarence 1.
Pollsters: Mark Adair (WNY Football Weekly), Sean Bruso (Lancaster assistant coach), Sibby Constantino (Trench Trophy), Rick Coburn (Trench Trophy), Dick Gallagher (WNY High School Sports), Tom Langworthy (Jamestown coach), John Lewis (Connolly Cup), Rich Robbins (Canisius coach), Miguel Rodriguez (Buffalo News), Dennis Sarow (Connolly Cup).
Small Schools Polls
Rank School (Class) Record Points LW
1 Cheektowaga  (B) 3-0 100 1
2 Pioneer (B) 3-0 77 5
3 Southwestern (C) 3-0 76 4
4 Albion (B) 3-0 73 3
5 Maryvale (B) 2-1 60 2
6 Dunkirk (B) 3-0 49 6
7 Cleveland Hill (C) 2-1 31 7
8 CSP* (D) 3-0 26 8
8 Fredonia/Brocton* (B) 3-0 26 10
10 Medina (C) 3-0 12 9
Others receiving votes: Wilson (C) 6, Cardinal O’Hara 2, Maple Grove (D) 1, Lackawanna (B) 1.
Pollsters: Adair, William Atlas (Wilson), Bruso, Constantino, Gallagher, Lewis, Sarow, Angelo Sciandra (Tonawanda assistant coach), Rodriguez, Ed Sciera (Trench Trophy), Jay Sirianni (Southwestern).
Story topics: high school football