St. Joseph will be without coach Paul Sacco, who is in the hospital after undergoing a procedure last week because of bleeding on the brain. Sacco is the winningest coach in Cape-Atlantic League history with a 243-54-5 record in 30 seasons.
Assistant Ricky Mauriello, a 1997 St. Joe graduate, will act as the head coach. Mauriello started coaching at St. Joe in the fall of 1997. He said Sacco continues to recover and could be released from Atlantic City Medical Center, City Division, this weekend.
St. Joe is the defending state Non-Public II champion and No. 4 in The Press Elite 11.
St. Anthony is better known for its boys basketball team, coached by Bob Hurley. This is St. Anthony's third football season. The Friars have won all of their games this season by at least 16 points. They have scored more than 50 points in four of their wins.
Playoff history: Few teams in the state can match St. Joe's tradition of playoff success. The Wildcats have won 19 championships, including eight straight from 1999-2006. St. Joe is 33-12 in the postseason and this is its 32nd playoff appearance.
St. Anthony made the playoffs last year in its second varsity season. The Friars lost to St. Mary's of Rutherford 20-6 in the first round of the state Non-Public I playoffs.
Key players for St. Joe: Eli Pogue, FB, 44 carries for 328 yards; Kaheem Reynolds, 40 carries for 236 yards; Gordon Hill (above), RB, 90 carries for 706 yards; Pat Casey, LB, 65 tackles, Kaiwan Lewis, DE, 60 tackles and four sacks; Josh Moore, LB, 62 tackles.
Key players for St. Anthony: Daryl Wilson, RB, 643 rushing yards, eight touchdowns; David Coleman, RB, 641 rushing yards, six touchdowns; Jidamon Sparkman, RB/LB, 676 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns, 65 tackles; Sylvester Wright, QB, 628 yards passing and nine touchdowns.
Keys to victory: St. Joe must overcome the emotional loss of not having Sacco on the sidelines. The Wildcats will try to control the game behind their offensive and defensive lines.
Who: Third-seeded St. Joseph (7-1) vs. second-seeded St. Anthony (9-0)
When/where: 7 p.m. Saturday at Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City
What's next: Winner advances to the state final the weekend of Dec. 3-5 against the winner of tonight's semifinal between fourth-seeded St. Mary's (6-3) and top-seeded Holy Cross (8-0).