The last thing the St. Francis football team wanted to have to worry about was beating Brown Deer to qualify for the WIAA playoffs.
Mario Scianni and friends took care of that concern.
Scianni, a senior fullback/linebacker, had three touchdowns during a second half in which the Mariners dominated St. Thomas More for a 28-12 Woodland Conference victory at St. Francis on Oct. 12.
"He's our leader on this team," St, Francis coach Doug Sarver said after his team earned a playoff berth for the eighth straight year and 11 time in 12 seasons. "He's our emotional leader.
"He's a ball of fire and intensity. Our kids will follow him in that regard."
If you listen to Scianni, who caught a pass from junior quarterback Cory Knapp for one touchdown and ran for two more, it was easy for him do the leading for the Mariners (5-3 overall, 5-2 Woodland).
"All those touchdowns, it's all my blockers," Scianni said. "I give it all to them. They get plenty of credit.
"I'm just trying to get the team going. Every game, that's my job."
If that is his job, he should grade out quite well. In the tangible area of statistics, he was darn good, too. He ran for 78 yards on 15 carries, and caught the one pass for 17 yards and a score. He also made two noticeably big hits on defense during the second half, one that kept St. Thomas More to a 1-yard gain on third-and-4 and another for a 6-yard loss on second-and-seven that led to a three-and-out for the Cavaliers (1-7, 1-6). Scianni was in on six tackles overall.
"They have a whole bunch of guys," St. Thomas More coach Chris Clarey said. "He's one, and they've got a whole backfield of guys who can run the ball."
Indeed, Scianni had plenty of help on the ground, as the Mariners ran for 240 yards. Junior halfback Will Frisch led the way with 105 yards on 24 carries. Senior halfback Thomas Fera ran seven times for 27 yards, and sophomore fullback Evan Biller added 25 yards on six carries as the Mariners piled up 240 yards on the ground.
Knapp was impressive, too, completing 10 of 12 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He has passed for 1,017 yards this season to become the first St. Francis quarterback to pass for more than 1,000 since Chris Tekampe in 1980. The other TD pass was nicely laid into the arms of Fera, who caught the ball over the middle ran about half of the 38 yards it took to score.
All I all, the night was a very good one for Sarver and his team.
"That's why I was so happy and proud of our kids after the game, especially the seniors," Sarver said. "They really needed this game, one, to continue the playoff streak, and also our streak of winning seasons, which is 13 out of 14.
"If we lose, then we've got to go play Brown Deer, which is a very tough opponent. Plus, the playoffs aren't a certainty. You're .500 (overall), and you could back in, but we're secure."
St. Thomas More junior quarterback Lucas Swider threw touchdown passes of 21 and 13 yards to junior tight end Aaron Loferski.
Swider completed 16 of 24 passes for 173 yards and was intercepted twice. Loferski had six catches for 80 yards.
"We had a few answers, but not enough," Clarey said.
Fera had 11 tackles, two for losses. Tyler Bostedt had two interceptions.
The WIAA playoffs will begin Tuesday, Oct. 23. Visit StFrancisNOW.com or wiaawi.org Friday, Oct. 19, for pairings, times and sites.
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