St. Thomas More visits Ohio again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 3, 2006

HAMILTON, Ontario — There are a couple of lines in the Canadian national anthem “O Canada!” that read,

“From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

The St. Thomas More Knights are taking those words to heart.

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For the fourth straight season, St. Thomas More will take the long trip to Ohio to play one of the state’s traditional football programs in the Ironton Fighting Tigers and try to guard against a power running game.

“We know we’ll be in for a tough game. We’re concerned about their running game,” Knight head coach Claudio Silvestri said.

“We choose Ohio because we feel Ohio is one of the hot beds for football. In Canada hockey is the top sport. We like to expose our kids to the hot bed of football.”

St. Thomas More is the largest school in Hamilton with approximately 1,000 boys and another 1,000 girls.

Traditionally one of the top teams in Canada, the Knights were city league runners-up last year as they lost in the championship game 35-31 in the closing minutes of the game.

“We had a bad defense last year. We’re bigger, stronger and deeper this year. We’re more hard-hitting.

How much better we don’t know. Friday will be a good test,” Silvestri said.

“This will be our players’ greatest experience,”

The coaches’ poll has St. Thomas More ranked No. 1. Silvestri said the rating is based on the team’s experience returning.

“We have a little depth this year,” Silvestri said.

Although St. Thomas More is nearly five-times the size of Ironton, he said the two programs are similar in a lot of ways.

“We have a lot in common with Ironton. We’re a steel tow. We’re the Pittsburgh of Canada,” Silvestri said. “We’re a power teams. We like to run the ball a lot. We pass when we have to.”

While Ironton runs its offense out of the T-formation, St. Thomas More runs from the wishbone.

The offense is led by senior quarterback Josh Bennett (5-10, 170). The top running backs are halfbacks Matt D’Amico (5-6, 175) and Brandon Donick (5-11, 172).

“(Bennett) is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a great runner who makes things happen. (D’Amico and Donick) are speedy backs and tough runners.”

Silvestri, who was the 1989 special teams player of the year for McMaster University in Ontario, said he would like to throw more, but knows the running game best suits his team.

“My coach at McMaster taught me that you tailor your scheme to your talent,” Silvestri said.

The Knights top lineman is Jordan Cozzi (6-3, 295) who is being scouted by several American colleges.

Heading up the defense is middle linebacker John Hornby (6-1, 185) who will double as the fullback. Silvestri called Hornby “our best defensive player.”