Edison, Toronto following same path
TORONTO — While the coaches on the sidelines might be new, the rivalry is nothing new, and nothing new to them, either.
The 2018 edition of the Toronto Red Knights and the Edison Wildcats, which takes place Friday at Clarke Hinkle Stadium, is a battle of first-year coaches now leading their respective alma maters.
“They are a lot better than they were last year,” Toronto coach Josh Franke said. “My dad informs me on a daily basis how big the Edison game is, going back to when he played at Toronto. They had their biggest game every year against Jefferson Union (now Edison).
“The communities are very close together. My little cousin plays for the Edison Little Wildcats. You see people you know. You want to win this one because those are the people you see at work every day, at the grocery store. It’s bragging rights in the community for the next 12 months.”
Both teams sit at 1-1. Toronto lost to Catholic Central at home, 35-0, in Week 1, then bounced back on the road in Week 2 with a 36-0 win over Bridgeport, giving Franke his first win as Toronto’s coach.
The Wildcats also bounced back in Week 2 to give Shane O’Brien his first victory, taking down Wellsville 36-7.
A former Wildcat himself, O’Brien knows what to expect in the rivalry.
“It should be a very competitive game for us both, with both teams coming off of big wins,” O’Brien said. “They do a lot of different things. They have good athletes.”
The biggest question mark coming into the matchup, as has been the case all three weeks of the season for Toronto, is if senior quarterback Nate Karaffa will play. While Franke wasn’t able to say for sure one way or the other, there were some positive developments in his progress back from a knee injury.
“He really wants to come back,” Franke said. “As soon as he can, I know he will be there. We spoke with his trainer and our trainer, and he is ahead of where they originally anticipated. We just have to wait for the doctor’s call to give him the green light.
“When he was going through his workouts, he looked at me with his silly grin, which was almost like telling me ‘I’m almost ready.’ He’s a competitor, and missing rivalry games makes it tough. I know he really wants to play against Edison.”
Zack Stackhouse and Caleb Leasure each started a game in his absence, Leasure putting up 55 yards and a score against Bridgeport, while also rushing for another TD.
“Caleb Leasure stepped in and did exactly what we asked him to do,” Franke said. “I told him we didn’t need him to play perfect. We needed him to play smart, and that is what he did. He managed the game well and had a good grasp on things.”
Regardless if Karaffa plays or not, O’Brien has his team preparing the same way.
“He’s a great athlete, and it’s unfortunate the injury he has had,” O’Brien said. “It definitely leaves some unknowns, but we are going to prepare the same way. (Leasure) did a good job of scrambling and making plays for them, so we’re going to try and prepare for that factor of the game either way.”
Anthony Sinicropi has embraced his role as the Wildcats starter, throwing for 250 yards and three scores, while completing nearly 68 percent of his passes so far through two starts.
“I think he’s done a very good job,” O’Brien said. “There are some things we need to fix, but he’s performed well. He had a good week throwing the ball. This past week, we asked him to carry the ball a little more, and he’s shown he’s pretty good at both.”
≤ During halftime, Toronto will honor the 20th anniversary of the baseball team’s 1998 state championship.