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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Landri Continuing Marauder Traditions

On a cloudy, damp September afternoon in Kenmore, NY Derek Landri stands at the 50-yard line of the St. Joe’s football field. He looks left and then right almost continuously. His varsity team is running from sideline to sideline while a light rain falls. The Marauders have no time to reflect on the previous game’s victory over Cardinal O’Hara. It’s time to prepare for this coming Saturday’s game with Cathedral Prep (5-0) of Erie, PA. The strength and conditioning coach is close to Landri; soon the boys will hit the weights and then film.

Landri, who is in his second full season at St. Joe’s (2-2), 1st as head coach, isn’t easily excited. He’s confident but not egotistical. He isn’t necessarily laying a foundation, he’s continuing a tradition of building “high-character young men.” You wouldn’t believe a rookie head coach could be this prepared and focused, but then again this is St. Joe’s. When the position opened up after Dennis Gilbert retired last spring, it didn’t take long to find a suitable replacement.

“I’ve only been in Buffalo four years, at this school for two. Walking around this area and saying you are from St. Joe’s, that carries a lot of weight” Landri said from his office Monday. “Kids come here just to play football? No, kids come here for school. We’re not going to cheat or change grades. We want kids that when they leave here weren’t just successful on the field but off the field.”

Landri is a firm believer in the brotherhood that exists at St. Joe’s and other schools and teams he’s been associated with. Whether it was at De La Salle high school, a Lasallian institution in Concord, California or at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana where he played his college football, Landri is teaching his players how to be respectful and accountable to everyone on the team and in the community.

“What we’re building here won’t happen overnight. Learning how to play selfless takes time and patience. It’s all part of the Christian brotherhood. We have to play with that mindset where no one individual is bigger than the team, playing for the guy next to you.”

Landri’s Father was a carpenter. He has two younger brothers. His wife Alyissa is from WNY and the couple is expecting their fourth child in December. His grandfather was a huge Notre Dame fan, he was raised Catholic and was very good on the football field.

All signs pointed to South Bend. He played with Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija under Charlie Weis. Some of the most influential coaches Landri spoke about were defensive line coaches Greg Mattison (ND) and Jim Washburn (Phi). John Fox was very hard on him and his teammates while in Carolina “but he not only talked the talk, he walked the walk” and he respected him for it. Landri understands what it takes to get to the next level and can help prepare his players to reach it.

At St. Joe’s, Landri has the task of cultivating Casey Kelly, younger brother of Chad (Ole Miss) and nephew of legendary Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly. “Casey has a really good understanding of the game. His teammates respect him and he commands that respect” Landri said, adding “it’s not just because of what his Uncle did, a lot of these kids have no idea other then what their folks have told them over the years. When Casey gets between those white lines nobody can help him and he gets it done. You can’t teach toughness and he has that, it’s rare to see. He’s got a special talent”.

In addition to Kelly, the Marauders have sophomore Tyler Doty, a 6’4 linemen. “‘Big Country’ we call him. He’s big, a lot of raw talent there. If we can get his technique down I like his chances to do pretty well.”

Another standout is junior RB Jaden Loften. A shifty back that has speed and quickness.

Landri and the Marauders know that they will have to go through Canisius. “We know the team on Delaware has been at the top the past few years. We have to keep working and we’re going to do it the right way.”

When asked about his thoughts on a public school player jumping ship to go to a private school just days before the season began Landri didn’t hide his feelings. “You don’t do something like that, just out of respect. But that happens here I guess. That team that lost the player, they took kids the year before but you didn’t hear anything. Then it happens to him, so it’s kind of comical in a way. It’s like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. We won’t do stuff like that. We’ll recruit the 7th and 8th graders and we can offer them something no one else can.”

“I’m really excited to see what our boys can do against Prep; we’ll play hard for as long as we can. I’m excited to see what our guys can do. They’ve been great every year. I expect our guys to compete.”

Win or lose, they’ll do it the Landri way.

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