Dennis Gilbert, St. Joe's head football coach, was named the Buffalo Bills High School Football Coach of the Week after his Marauders stunned Western New York by crushing arch-rival Canisius 50-26 last weekend.
"There were 38 kids and 4 coaches that thought we had a chance to win," Gilbert said, "This is a great win for our school and our program. This is something that those 38 kids will never forget."
The Crusaders entered the game with four wins and no losses, ranked 2nd among large schools in WNY and were coming off a victory over highly-regarded Cathedral Prep of Erie, Pennsylvania. Canisius had also beaten St. Joe's five straight times.
"Our seniors had never beaten them," Gilbert said.
Nick Hall, a 4-year varsity starter for St. Joe's ran 16 times for 106 yards and 2TDs. He also threw a halfback option pass for another touchdown.
Gilbert, a 1984 St. Joe's-grad, recalled his own games against Canisius.
"We were ranked 2nd in New York State and we lost to Canisius, 6-2, in a snowstorm," Gilbert said. "Every other game was canceled that day. It was a horrible feeling."
Gilbert returned as a senior QB in the fall of 1983 and tossed the game-winning 2-point PAT pass as St. Joe's edged Canisius 8-6.
"I told the seniors that you would always remember your senior year," Gilbert said, "They gave us strong leadership in the game. They put it on the line and went out and did what they wanted."
St. Joe's surrendered the game's first TD but, trailing 6-0, the Marauders struck quickly and often. Hall started the scoring on a 2-yard run. One series later St. Joe's scored again when Chad Kelly hit Ilo Noble with a 19-yard TD pass.
St. Joe's got a safety when a bad punt snap hit the goalpost. Hall tossed his halfback option pass to Noble for another score and St. Joe's led 23-6. The Maruaders stretched the lead to 30-12 at the half.
"The kids were very physical," Gilbert said. "Both teams were. There was a lot of hitting on both sides of the ball."
The victory was a huge boost to team morale after a 1-3 start.
"We were 1-3 but we have also played some really good football," Gilbert said. "Our offense has moved the ball."
Gilbert, in his first year as head coach at St. Joe's, has been an assistant coach at St. Joe's since 1986. He worked as a head coach at St. Mary's for one season and led the Lancers to the Monsignor Martin A title game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
This is the 14th consecutive year of the Buffalo Bills High School Football Coach of the Week program. Each week during the 11-week high school football season, a committee appointed by the Buffalo Bills selects a head football coach as Coach of the Week.
The honorees will receive an official certificate from the commissioner of the NFL, plus a Bills Coach of the Week cap and a $1,000 donation to the school's football program from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation. Recognition of the winning coach will be shown on the Buffalo Bills official website (www.buffalobills.com). At the end of the season, one of the weekly award winners will be named Coach of the Year and will receive an additional $1,000 donation to the school's football program.
2010 Coach of the Week Winners:
Week 1 - Rich Harris (Kenmore West Blue Devils)
Week 2 - Tom Goddard (Clarence Red Devils)
Week 3 - Ed Wilson (McKinley Macks)
Week 4 – Brandon Harris (Canisius Crusaders)
Week 5 – Dennis Gilbert (St. Joe's Marauders)