Michael Slingsby is a big fella. The senior noseguard is 6 feet tall and a robust 320 pounds.
And Slingsby will be the first line of defense that the Amboy Clippers will have to go through – or around – against St. Bede tonight at the Harbor.
It's a problem the Clippers have faced before, during last year's 20-14 loss to the Bruins.
"He almost single-handedly decided the outcome of that game," Amboy coach Gary Jones said. "He plugs things up so much, and they have some quick linebackers that cover a lot of ground."
Behind Slingsby will be returning linebacker Michael Bellino, son of the Bruins legendary coach John Bellino. The elder Bellino is entering his 34th season at the helm of the Bruins, and has a record of 165-152.
Bellino's teams also have a record of frustrating opponents with stingy defense.
"They never give up," Jones said. "They are tenacious. They are always going be the kind of defensive team that make it tough on running teams like us."
Other than Slingsby and Michael Bellino, St. Bede will be a young squad after going 7-3 a year ago in the Big Rivers.
The Bruins return only five seniors, with Bellino and Slingsby being the only two with starting experience. St. Bede is replacingits entire starting backfield, and possibly starting as many as five sophomores.
"They are a little like us," Jones said. "They lost a lot of their skill-position players, but are still going to be strong up front.
"When you get sophomores moved up like that, and other changes from one year to the next, it's really hard to know what to expect from a team."
Amboy has lost the last three games against the Bruins, and was held to 14 points or fewer in each.
With St. Bede moving to the other division of the new Three Rivers, it was luck as much as anything else that Amboy had to see the Bruins in 2013.
Yet Jones thinks it could be beneficial to play someone familiar.
"We know what kind of team we are going to see," Jones said. "We know the kind of offense and defense that they'll play. With some of those other teams, we wouldn't have much background on them going into the first week."
The Clippers will play Sherrard and Hall in their other two crossover games.