St. Joe's is looking to become the first Marauders team to repeat as Monsignor Martin champions since the 2005-06 teams won back to back titles.
Head coach Dennis Gilbert told Two On Your Side's Stu Boyar "we finished strong last year but we want to be better. We got beat in the league by St. Francis during the regular season and we didn't win the big game on the road against the non-league opponent so that's something we want to do this year." Although it will be a home game Gilbert and company won't have to wait long to be tested by a non-league opponent. St. Joe's opens the season against Aquinas on Saturday, September 3rd.
The Marauders are led by senior quarterback Chad Kelly who will play his college football at Clemson. Boyar asked Kelly about the opener with Aquinas. "They've got a great team, great coaching staff, great players. They reload every year so its going to be a slug fest. Its going to be fun though with it being here at St. Joe's. All the student bodies are going to be here and its going to be fun."
Three of the top five receivers from a year ago return. Ilo Noble, Kyle Briggs and Nigel Davis all return. Briggs told Stu that "its hard to go back to the Ralph. We have to do everything right. Every day has to be hard. We have to stick every day. We have to be ready to practice every day. We can't take a day off because we have a tough schedule ahead of us so anything that comes our way we have to be able to attack it and it starts in practice." Briggs also told Boyar about Kelly's competitiveness and he pushes everyone to constantly work harder. "Chad's always screaming at practice. He's always got a vibe about these practices that gets us in the mood. If its a dark gloomy day Chad's there to brighten it up."
Senior left guard and defensive tackle Jordan Sanders told Stu he thinks the team is capable of huge things this season. He also told Stu what has to happen for the Marauders to have the kind of season he expects them to have. "Everyone just has to do exactly what we're taught. We're taught everyday out here how to make our block, how to make our reads, everything that we're taught out here we have to do in the games to make sure that we're successful." Sanders added his team likes to tackle challenges and St. Joe's enjoys having that bulls eye of being champions. "We always want to up our competition every year. We always want to show everyone how good we are because we are exactly that good."
In 2010 Kelly became the first quarterback in Western New York history to pass for two thousand yards and run for one thousand yards. He told Stu he wants to double those numbers. "I was speaking with Duane Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs and he told me he writes down his personal goals and checks them every day. He wants to win a Super Bowl. I want to win a Monsignor Martin championship. He puts 20 touchdowns a year he wants to get. That's what stuck in my mind is write personal goals. He said he looks at it every single day and that's what I'm doing. I put down four thousand passing yards and two thousand rushing yards and over 50 td's so that's what I'm going for." Kelly was smiling broadly when he said it. Gilbert and the Marauders hope their opponents aren't smiling after games this season, especially in the ultra competitive Monsignor Martin league which features a number of the top teams in Western New York this season.