2016 St. Joe’s Football Preview: New Coach, New Season, New Hope
Despite a regular season record of 2-6 the St. Joe’s Marauders were in it to the very end against rival Canisius in their Monsignor Martin semi-final match up. After controlling the lead early the Marauders gave up a late touchdown that ended the chance of a St. Joe’s upset as well as the Marauders 2015 campaign.
Following an impressive shutout win over Lockport all appeared well for the Marauders. However a string of injuries to key players, including start QB Mike McCarthy, all but derailed a season full of potential. Although the injuries were unfortunate many underclassman were inserted into the lineup allowing them to gain valuable experience.
St. Joe’s will be returning several key players on both sides of the football in 2016. The most notable player to return to the Marauders is running back/safety Naseer Jackson. In 2015 Jackson recorded 491 total offensive yards while splitting time between wide receiver and running back. Jackson’s explosive speed is makes him very tough to catch in the open field and enables him to turn what appears to be a loss into a big gain. Other key players returning to the Marauders lineup are Freddie Nixon, Nick Kelsch, Louis Surace and Yusuf Osman. Osman is a had hitting line backer who has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“I want this team to win its First state championship in a while and most of all I want our team to be feared and respected by everyone,” Osman said. “Hard work before, during and after practice. (We have to) Out work any team that faces us.”
The most interesting position battle through camp has been at quarterback between sophomore Casey Kelly and Junior Trey Boling. Both Kelly and Boling possess great arm strength as well as ideal size to play the position and be successful. At the J.V. level Kelly had a .405 completion percentage and 379 yards of total offense in five games with the Marauders, it should be noted that Kelly was unable to finish the season due to injury. Following Kelly’s injury, Boling inherited the starting quarterback position and was able to play consistently with a completion percentage of .509 and 516 yards of total offense in the final four games of the season. Rather than focusing on personal aspirations Casey Kelly said it’s about what he and Boling can do to make each other better.
“Me and Trey push each other to our limits every day. We tell each other what’s good and what’s bad about whatever it is we are doing,” Kelly said. “We also ask our teammates what works for them so that we are on the same page.” This is undoubtedly a great situation for the Marauders as these two players can also play other skill positions on the field.
Tasked with making the tough decisions is newly appointed head coach Derek Landri. Landri joined the St. Joe’s staff as an assistant to previous head coach Dennis Gilbert in 2015 following a seven year NFL career.
“We expect this years Marauders to play for each other,” Landri said of his expectations. “To compete at their highest levels and to be committed and accountable to each other.” If Landri’s expectations become reality it is undoubtedly a recipe for success. It is also notable that Landri was member of the De Le Salle High School team that fashioned a 151 game winning streak under coach Bob Ladouceur. Ladouceur’s teams were well known for a sense of “brotherhood” amongst the players in the locker room. Although this is an untraceable attribute Landri believes that there is already a brotherhood established amongst the players.
St. Joe’s season opener is scheduled for September 2nd against the New York State Class A state champion South Park Sparks at All High Stadium with kick-of at 7 P.M. Finally, the rivalry between St. Joe’s and Canisius will be continued for another year on October 15th at St. Joe’s with kick-off scheduled for 1 P.M.