Varsity Junior Gryphs take aim at Ottawa

GUELPH – The Guelph Varsity Junior Gryphons will attempt to put an end to their two-game losing streak and reach the .500 winning percentage mark in the process when they host the Ottawa Varsity Sooners Saturday in Ontario Provincial Football League varsity premier play at Alumni Stadium.

“Ottawa’s going to be a really great team,” Guelph coach Matt Nesbitt said. “For us, it’s really just going to come down to how we mature as a group. I’m excited about the opportunity to go through some battles as a group and see how we respond to that adversity. We’re a talented team so it really just depends on how we respond with our emotions.”

After starting the season with a 53-16 victory over the Durham Dolphins, the Junior Gryphs have dropped a pair of close ones as they lost 31-26 to the Hamilton Varsity Tiger-Cats and 40-32 to the Niagara Spears.

“This is a good league,” Nesbitt said. “We’re a young team so the success of this team is going to come down to our maturation process. If we mature quickly as a team, we’ll be successful. We can only control us.”

Quarterback Dakota Brown has completed 32 of 66 pass attempts for 644 yards and six touchdowns. He’s been intercepted twice.

Brown has also been the team’s leading rusher, gaining 101 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Tanner Nelmes has 40 yards on 23 carries.

Clark Barnes has caught eight passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns while Tommy Nield has hauled in 10 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown and Keontae King has caught eight passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Brendan Perozzo has 20 tackles while Brandon Ferigo and Antonio Webb each have 18. Tavius Robinson has three sacks and Andre Gordon has two. Al-Ameen Shipeolu has two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and Gordon returned an interception for a touchdown, too. Garrison Pyle and Joshua Vanamelsvoort each scored touchdowns on fumble recoveries.

The Sooners enter the game as the East Division leaders with three wins in three outings as they defeated Hamilton 28-20, Mississauga Warriors 22-7 and Kingston Grenadiers 32-15.

Jean-Paul Cimankinda has carried the ball 51 times for 570 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback James Keenan has 11 carries for 126 yards. Both are averaging over 11 yards a carry.

Cimankinda also has 55 yards on four catches. Willi-Pierre Dimongi has 11 receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns and Honoreal Iloki has 14 catches for 136 yards and one TD.

Quarterbacks Keenan and Brayden Lassenba have completed 40 of 69 pass attempts for 503 yards and six touchdowns. They’ve been intercepted seven times.

Lake Korte-Moore leads the defence with 15 tackles, four sacks and a blocked kick. Malik Yusuf has 15 tackles and two interceptions.

“Because we are so young, we have to make sure we continue to develop these players,” Nesbitt said. “Developing a ton of individuals and making sure they understand the game better (when they leave practice) than when they came to practice and make sure that at the end of the day they know how to execute exactly what we’re asking of them.”

The Junior Gryphs will have four games remaining on their schedule after the game against Ottawa. They’re at home against Essex Ravens and on the road for games against Cambridge Lions at Waterloo, London Mustangs and Cumberland Panthers at Ottawa.

Game time Saturday at Alumni Stadium is 7 p.m.

The game is to complete a Junior Gryphon tripleheader as the Bantam Junior Gryphs (2-1-0) are to play the Orangeville Outlaws (1-2-0) in OPFL Regional Bantam play at 12:30 p.m. and the Junior Varsity Junior Gryphs (0-3-0) are to play the Ottawa Sooners (2-1-0) in OPFL Junior Varsity Premier play at 3 p.m.