RUTHERFORD – The first round of the football playoffs is always a tricky week for top seeds. Many times they are facing a team they should beat handily. This was the case for undefeated St. Mary on Saturday afternoon.

The second-seeded Gaels came into their game with No. 7 Morris Catholic as a prohibitive favorite. That makes the week leading up to the game a challenge for the team and the coaches.

Any fears were put to rest immediately, as St. Mary raced out to a 20-point lead in the first nine minutes and never looked back on its way to a 48-6 trouncing of the Crusaders. That sets up a Non-Public Group 1 semifinal against St. Anthony on Saturday, also at Tamblyn Field.

“You know, this group is a real fun bunch of guys,” St. Mary coach Mike Sheridan said. “Sometimes it is hard to tell what they’re thinking, but I got the sense early that they were focused on the task at hand.”

The Gaels (10-0) came right out of the gate with a flea-flicker on the first play from scrimmage, with quarterback Andrew Brito hitting Matthew Vettoso for a 33-yard gain. Keon Banks got St. Mary on the scoreboard two plays later on a 10-yard run.

“We all knew it was important to come out and get thing done right away,” Banks said. “This team loves playing football and we did not want our season to end here. We have plenty to accomplish yet and we were concentrated on getting things done today.”