SJB running attack key to title hopes

St. John the Baptist's Christian Turri runs for St. John the Baptist's Christian Turri runs for a touchdown in the first quarter against Holy Trinity in the CHSFL AA football quarterfinal playoff game. (Nov. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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St. John the Baptist is looking for a repeat, of sorts. For the first time since 1981, the Cougars are hoping to reach double-digits in wins when they face Xavier (8-2) for the CHSFL AA crown Saturday night at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

St. John the Baptist (9-1) will launch its running attack at the Knights. The Cougars -- who had five backs rush for at least 366 yards -- welcome the return of senior Christian Turri, who carried the ball only three times in the semifinals against Kellenberg because of a leg injury. Jake Wiswall, Kevin De Maille and Ryan McCann filled in and totaled 257 yards on the ground.

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"That's part of our game plan," coach Keith Schweers said about his backs. "That feeds into our strength -- having to honor multiple weapons from the defensive side puts the defense in a bind. We have those weapons and we want to be able to use them all and keep them on their heels."

The Cougars' defense will focus on Xavier running back William Solomon, who ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns in a semifinal win over Fordham Prep. Solomon has 2,131 yards and 33 touchdowns this season and is familiar with the Cougars' defense. He ran for 171 yards on 37 carries in an early-season matchup won by St. John the Baptist, 14-0.

"This is a special group of seniors," Schweers said. "The core group has truly bought into the team aspect and leading by example."

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