St. Francis on the hunt for first football State Championship title


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After beating Canisius 21-10 to win the school’s first Monsignor Martin football title since 2018, the St. Francis Red Raiders have been hard at work preparing for the next big challenge: facing Iona Prep in the Catholic State Championship game on Saturday.

“Iona Prep, they’re a pretty good team. They beat Canisius last year in the spring, but they lost a couple of their key players,” St. Francis senior running back Kimal Clark said. “They’re a difficult team in my eyes, but I believe we’re a difficult team to play against too. So, it’ll be fun.”

“Just be the best us we can be,” St. Francis senior running back Jimmy Scott said. “Two weeks is a long time for practice, so we’ve been really locking in on film, getting the details down. They got a pretty good O-Line and some athletes. We’ve got the same, so we just have to come out victorious.”

With a predominately young team, the Red Raiders filled up their non-league schedule this year with some of the toughest teams from surrounding states, and they say the experience they gained in those games has prepared them to play this explosive Gaels team.

“Playing down in Ohio, Pennsylvania, it gave us a little bit of tough skin. We learned who we are going down there, sometimes we came out victorious, sometimes we came out with an L, but through it all, we knew we had each other’s backs out there,” Clark said. “That’s what helped a lot.”

“That’s the whole mindset of going into games like this. We don’t go there just to say we played them, we want to play them hard and just be ready in the long run to play in games like this like in the state championship,” St. Francis quarterback Steve Otremba said.

“It’s no shot towards New York State football, but you go out to Ohio, Pennsylvania, it’s a different level. That added a lot of fuel to our fire and only giving up 28 points to a team like Cathedral Prep and Archbishop Hoban, that’s kind of big time,” Scott said.

Not only does St. Francis want to end the season with a win, there is also an underlying factor that’s giving them a little extra motivation to bring home the ring.

“We’d be the first team to win a State Championship in football, so that would be really cool to be the first team to ever do it, just a huge accomplishment,” Otremba said.

“Just having that in the back of our heads just adds fuel to the fire,” Scott said.

Iona Prep hosts St. Francis downstate in the Catholic State Championship on Saturday at noon.

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