Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's High School football head coach, has been named the Buffalo Bills Coach of the Week Three after his Marauders beat arch-rival Canisius 34-20 last weekend.
Nigel Davis returned the opening kickoff 85 yards to give St. Joe's a quick 7-0 lead.
On the next offensive series, the Marauders stuffed Canisius on a fourth-and-four play. St. Joe's took over on its own 42 and used a hook-and-lateral from Kelly to Yanni Zulia to Davis for 27 yards. On the next play, QB Chad Kelly ran 31 yards for a TD and 14-0 lead just 3:50 into the game.
Davis finished the day with 126 combined yards rushing and receiving while scoring a rushing TD. He also intercepted a pass.
St. Joe's now leads the storied rivalry 46-30-3 against Canisius.
"This is the most important game on our schedule," Gilbert said. "I spoke to six of the guys who graduated from last year's team. There were four guys on our sidelines who played for me in 1988. They come back because it's the Canisius game and it's still important to them."
Gilbert, now in second season as St. Joe's head coach, took over for longtime coach Bob O'Connor. Gilbert started at QB for O'Connor in 1983 and 1984.
"I got a full dose of Bob, first as a player and then as a coach," Gilbert said. "I learned a ton from him."
Gilbert works as a City of Buffalo Police Officer. He was with the Buffalo Housing Authority for three years before it was shut down in 2005. He took a job working with the New York State Inspector General's Office before joining the Buffalo Police force in 2007.
"I see a lot of bad stuff," he said. "A lot of pain and suffering at times. Seeing blood and death is difficult. But I also get the opportunity to help people that need help and protect people that can't protect themselves."
Gilbert says that coaching football is a huge relief from the stress of being a cop.
"I might go from a homicide scene to football practice," he said, "but I'm invigorated because these kids soak up everything. The passion they have for football makes you feel young again."
Gilbert played three seasons of varsity football at St. Joe's. He graduated in May of 1984 and was named the head JV coach in August of that same year.
"It was interesting to say the least," Gilbert said. "It was fun, it kept me in the game."
Gilbert had planned to play football at Canisius College after graduating from high school.
"I was going to play," he said, "but my dad told me that I should concentrate on school the first year. My plan was to get my grades up and then play for Canisius. But Bob O'Connor asked me if I wanted to coach at St. Joe's. Once I started coaching, I liked it as much as playing."
Gilbert says he gets the same feeling before a game that he did when he was a player.
"It's a competitive environment," he said. "You spend a lot of time on scouting and preparation. The kids are an extension of you. If they go out and stink, it's your fault. You didn't get them ready. You can be the smartest guy in the world but if you can't get your kids to buy into your program, you aren't any good."
Each week during the 11-week high school football season a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills will select a high school football head coach as the Buffalo Bills & National Guard Coach of the Week. Each honoree will receive a $2,000 donation to their high school football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and New York National Guard. The eleven finalists are also eligible for the Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Year Award where an additional $2,000 grant for their high school's football program will be given.
As a result of Gilbert being named the week two Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coach of the Week winner, the St. Joe's football program will be given the $2,000 awarded by the Bills and the New York National Guard.
Buffalo Bills & National Guard High School Coaches of the Week:
Week 1 Steve McDuffie, Bennett Tigers
Week 2 John Faller. Sweet Home Panthers
Week 3 Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's Maruaders