Another day, another last-play victory in D10 football
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – If the opening week of play is a good indicator, parity seems to have arrived in District 10 high school football in a season when two of the league’s six teams will not qualify for the playoffs.
“Two games out of three that went down to the last play. That shows you that the parity is there this year,” Lourdes Crusaders coach Joe Camilleri said Friday after the Crusaders defeated the Ross Royals on the final play from scrimmage.
The average winning margin in the league on the first week of the season was 4.67 points.
A tight schedule with the CWOSSA playoffs forced the league to drop its quarter-finals and that means only the top four teams will qualify for the semifinals. They’re set to be played Oct. 26 at Alumni Stadium, one week after the regular season concludes there.
The league’s championship game is scheduled for Nov. 2, also at Alumni Stadium, while the CWOSSA playoffs are to begin with its quarter-finals Nov. 9. CWOSSA semifinals are to be played Nov. 15 and the CWOSSA final is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Lourdes 12 Ross 9
Receiver Zachary DeCorso hauled in a 10-yard TD pass from Jack St. Hilaire after lining up near the sidelines near the Lourdes bench.
“They had a little blunder there on the last play,” Camilleri said. “They had a defensive breakdown. I’ve never seen it before, but our guy was standing there wide open waving his arms. We were yelling at our guys to snap the ball, snap the ball.”
So open was DeCorso that there was a concern he might not catch the ball. Often receivers that wide open lose a little focus as they start thinking about what they’re going to do once they catch the ball.
“You see it a lot of times that those are the ones they drop,” Camilleri said. “He’s one of our top receivers so we were quite confident he was going to catch it.”
While it was the winning touchdown, it wasn’t the play the Crusaders had planned to run.
“We were going to have a roll-out,” Camilleri said. “We were going to have Jack roll out and if they collapsed on him, (DeCorso) was going to be the option to throw to. We were pretty good running the ball as Jack was running the ball really well today and Colin Drummond was running the ball. We probably haven’t had a pure running back here since 2014 when we had Ryan Finoro. We haven’t had a run game since then.”
The win gives Lourdes the same number of victories it claimed in league play last year.
“We lost our first game last year to GC,” Camilleri said. “It was a tight game. We lost our first three games by I think a total of seven points last year, so it’s nice to get a close win – especially this year when only the top four teams make the playoffs. These games early are crucial.”
Friday’s game featured a half-hour lightning break that came with five minutes to go.
That break led to a renewed energy for both squads as more than half of the game’s points were scored after the resumption of play.
Colin Drummond had scored a TD to conclude the first possession of the game for Lourdes and that stood as the game’s only points until the Crusaders conceded a safety in the third quarter.
Ross grabbed the lead shortly after the lightning break when Joel Nixon caught a pass from QB Adam Shoemaker and found the end zone on a 20-yard catch-and-run play. Shoemaker kicked the convert.
Lourdes wore jerseys with Bourget emblazed on them. The Crusaders have new jerseys on order and when they didn’t arrive in time, they were sent the Bourget jerseys to wear. They were originally made for the football team representing Collège Bourget of Rigaud, Que.
St. James 10 Guelph CVI 5
On a windy day that had a bit of a bearing on what each team could do, the host St. James Lions doubled the defending champion GCVI Green Gaels.
“It was a factor for both teams,” GCVI coach Dan Crabbe said. “It effects both teams the same way. We were able to throw the ball sometimes, but we weren’t able to make the plays we wanted to.”
“We weren’t ready with special teams to snap the ball and kick the ball,” St. James coach Jeff Cummings said. “We just decided pretty early on that we were going to go for it on third down. We’re pretty confident in our running back (Tanner Nelmes) that if we had position with third-and-six, third-and-seven, we were going to go for it. We’ve seen today that we have a lot of work to do in those situations so we’ve got to improve on that.”
While the Lions did get the win, they felt they a little fortunate that the errors they made didn’t cost them dearly.
“That performance is not what I was looking for,” Cummings said. “We made a lot of mistakes and we had a lot of penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot regularly. I thought we could have scored a few more times, but that (GCVI) is a pretty tough team. They turn the momentum pretty quickly and they made it a game and when you get into a game with them, they’re always a threat.”
While the Gaels are the defending champions, their lineup has changed quite a bit from last season due to the graduation of players.
“We have a young team, but we do have some veterans back with good leadership,” Crabbe said. “We lost some of our leaders, but everybody does in the league. That’s nothing new. These guys are stepping up and we’re finding our chemistry.”
The Lions hit for a TD in the first quarter to grab an early 6-0 lead, but the Gaels cut the gap to a single point by halftime with a safety and field goal in the second quarter.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Lions added to their total with a single and field goal in the final quarter.
Jakob Tomas scored the touchdown for the Lions while Peter Czachor had a single and a field goal.
Abdalrahiem Suleiman kicked the field goal for GCVI while St. James had conceded the safety.
As is always the case in the first game of the season, both teams saw the areas of their game that needs attention.
“We have to make sure that we minimize the mistakes that we make,” Crabbe said. “The mishandling of the ball and things like that. Mental errors. We have to minimize those things and get them out of the game and I think we’ll be OK.”
“We’ve got a discipline issue for sure,” Cummings said. “The penalties are a product of maybe of conditioning and maybe of discipline, but those things have to be cleared up.”