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NYSCHSAA football championship: St. Francis vs. Iona Prep

NYSCHSAA football championship: St. Francis vs. Iona Prep

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Canisius St. Francis Football (copy)

St. Francis defender Kimal Clark celebrates a pass break up against Canisius.

Who: St. Francis Red Raiders (7-3) vs. Iona Prep Gaels (10-1)

Where: Iona Prep, New Rochelle

When: Noon, Saturday


State final history: St. Francis is 0-2, losing in the 2015 and 2018 title games to Archbishop Stepinac by scores of 42-28 and 49-7. This is Iona Prep’s first appearance.

Coaches: St. Francis, Jerry Smith, 33rd season (177-144-4). Joe Spagnolo, Iona Prep, sixth season (44-11).

Rankings: St. Francis is ranked No. 1 in the Buffalo News large schools poll and 12th in Class AA in the state Sportswriters’ poll. Iona Prep is ranked first in the state.

St. Francis key players and statistics: Jr. RB/LB Ricardo Kidd (200-1054-8); Jr. QB Steve Otremba Jr. (90-176-989/, 53-916-7; 3 rushing TDs); Sr. DB Kimal Clark (61 tackles, 3 INT); Sr. DE Jimmy Scott (39 tackles, 5 sacks).

Iona Prep key players: Jr. QB Ajani Sheppard, So. DB/RB Ellis Robinson, Jr. DB/RB Zyian Moultrie, Sr. OL Scott Becker.

How they got here: St. Francis defeated Canisius, 21-10, to win the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association championship. Iona Prep won its 10th straight game when it defeated Monsignor Farrell, 49-15, in the NYCHSL final.

Pre-snap read: Will the third time be the charm for St. Francis, whose previous two final appearances ended with losses to teams loaded with talent?

On paper, the Gaels seem like a matchup nightmare. They are an all-world bunch with several talented players having offers from Power Five conferences. That includes versatile sophomore defensive back Ellis Robinson IV, the nation’s top-ranked sophomore and fourth-ranked corner in the country, per, who has an offer from Alabama.

That said, this is still football. It’s about blocking and tackling. Doing the fundamentals. If St. Francis can do the fundamentals well, which includes running the ball and stopping the run, it should be a competitive game. Protecting the ball is a must and finding a way to let Scott be disruptive on defense will be key for their chances.

Next: Season over.

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News Sports Reporter

A University of Rochester graduate and former ice hockey goaltender, I cover high school sports. During my News tenure, I have also covered boxing, UFC, the Bills, college sports and all levels of hockey.

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