Lions, Spartans atop D10 football standings

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – With two of the teams in the District 10 high school football league getting to be spectators in the playoffs this year, every regular-season game takes on added importance.

In years past when all six teams made the playoffs, the regular season could be used as sort of a long training camp.

This year, though, that’s not the case.

After the second week of the season, a Thursday trio of games, a couple of teams will be feeling real good about their position while another pair will be getting a little concerned. The other two will be hoping to give themselves a little more breathing room.

While the first week saw every game decided by six points or less, that trend broke Thursday. It stood through the first game when the Bishop Macdonell Celtics squeezed by the Lourdes Crusaders 21-16, but fell apart after that. The St. James Lions dropped the Ross Royals 32-0 and the Centennial Spartans defeated the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 24-8.

Centennial and St. James are both at 2-0-0 while Bishop Mac and Lourdes are both at 1-1-0 and GCVI and Ross are both at 0-2-0.

Play continues with another trio of games Thursday. St. James is to play Bishop Mac at Bishop Mac at 12 p.m. while the other two games are set for Alumni Stadium in the first McDonald’s of Guelph Fryday Night Lights doubleheader – Centennial playing Lourdes at 4 p.m. and Ross playing GCVI at 7 p.m.

While this week’s Thursday tripleheader was due to Friday being a P.D. day, next week’s threesome on Thursday is due to the Thanksgiving weekend.

The final two weeks of the regular season will see the Fryday Night Lights twinbill actually played on a Friday.

 

St. James 32 Ross 0

Running back Tanner Nelmes found his stride and the Lions’ defence found its way to Ross quarterback Adam Shoemaker to dominate the match.

“That was the kind of game you want to have,” said St. James coach Jeff Cummings. “2-0 is what you want, you don’t care if it’s (a win by) two points or 30 points, but you want to be 2-0 because losses put you in a bad spot for making the playoffs.”

The Lions weren’t in a bad spot in the game as they led 24-0 at halftime.

Nelmes scored two touchdowns and a two-point convert while Ethan Fish and Nick Bertolo each had one TD. QB Jakob Tomas caught a two-point convert pass from Nelmes and St. James also had two team safeties.

Despite the win, the Lions weren’t entirely happy with their outing.

“I’m not terribly thrilled about the way we played again,” Cummings said. “We made a lot of mistakes and we had a lot of penalties and that will bite us in close games. There has to be some work. It was better than last week, but still not good.”

Having Nelmes in their backfield, the Lions make him the feature offensive player.

“He’s the primary target,” Cummings said. “He’s the Number One option. We’re running him 50 to 60 per cent of the time, there’s no surprises there. But other weapons are coming along. We’re developing the quarterback with a little running game and he’s showing he can pass the ball now. That’s going to be a process that goes on throughout the year with developing that, keep playing off Tanner and developing some other weapons off of that.”

The Royals came out of the game in a tough spot at 0-2, but they know what needs attention.

“It starts with just being physical. It just starts there,” said Ross coach Tim Mathewson. “Being physical and we may just have to switch things up. We just have to pass block. Our quarterback and receivers can’t do their jobs if we can’t have enough time to throw the ball. Then we leave our defence out there for too long and they get tired and that’s a problem, too.”

Being winless after two games makes Ross’s remaining games critical ones if they hope to play in the playoffs.

“It’s must-win next week for sure,” Mathewson said. “We’ve just got to take it one practice at a time and go from there. I told the guys to just work on getting better every single day and every single practice. I don’t believe for a second that we’re as bad as that score indicates, but we have to get better every single day.”

 

Centennial 24 Guelph CVI 8

The Spartans built an early lead and that gave them plenty of breathing space in the late stages of the game.

“They’re a really good football team,” Centennial coach Zach Pollari said. “This was a rematch from the District 10 semifinal last season. They’ve obviously lost a lot of players, but we’re happy with the way we played tonight. They’re a good football team and we rose to the occasion.”

“This win’s huge because we haven’t beat this team in two years and they also kicked us out of the playoffs last year,” QB Daniel Brown said. “We’ve really wanted to beat this team for a really long time and it leaves us 2-0.”

The Spartans led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter before a scoreless second quarter. They extended their lead to 24-0 by the end of the third quarter.

“We kept penalties down and we also executed a lot more efficiently which is great,” Pollari said. “Our offence played a little more like it can tonight, which is awesome.”

Brown scored two touchdowns for the Spartans while Drake Davis scored one TD. Ben Lane kicked a field goal and three converts.

Alec MacIntyre scored the TD for GCVI and QB Peyton Garvin added a two-point convert.

“The key today was just execute our assignments,” Brown said. “We didn’t do that good a job of it last week and the defence did their job. All we had to do on offence is finish our drives.”

“Between last week and this week, we certainly cleaned some stuff up,” GCVI coach Dan Crabbe said. “We didn’t put the ball on the turf like we did the first game of the season.”

Like Ross, the defending champion Gaels are at 0-2.

“Every game is critical,” Crabbe said. “It is a tough schedule and there isn’t a lot of room for error. Hey, the guys are doing the best right now that they can. They’re working hard and we’re still in this. We plan to be in the playoffs. We’re just going to get prepared for next week and get better every week.”

 

Bishop Macdonell 21 Lourdes 16

“This win’s amazing,” said Bishop Mac receiver and kicker Nick Guardiero. “This is awesome. It’s a big step for the team considering we only won one game last year and this year in our second game we’ve already won. It’s amazing. It’s just great.”

Guardiero scored two touchdowns and kicked three converts for the Celtics who never trailed in the game.

Bishop Mac was ahead 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 7-2 at halftime. All of the scoring in the second half was limited to the third quarter.

“We started a little flat and they jumped on us early,” said Lourdes coach Joe Camilleri. “They out-physicalled us the whole game. They beat us up on the lines and they always say that’s where you win football games. They were tougher than us.”

Last year the Celtics went 1-4-0 in the regular season and suffered a loss to Centennial by a single point in the quarter-finals.

“It’s way different because this year we’re an even better team and we know we have what it takes to win,” Guardiero said. “Going forward, we should be able to win every game if we play like this.”

“The most important thing is that the kids are believing in each other a lot more and that’s the key to this team,” said Bishop Mac coach Rob Hamilton. “It’s never been about talent, we’ve always had talent. It’s just being able to believe that we can actually work together as a team and succeed and now we’re getting there.”

The Celtics spent some of the time since their opener trying to forget how that one ended as Centennial scored the winning touchdown on the final play of the game.

“I just put it out of my mind,” Guardiero said. “I said I played a good game, but next week I’ve got to play an even better game. I’ve got to step it up and that’s what we did. We all stepped it up.”

“We focussed and we worked hard — and we ran a lot,” Hamilton said.

Quarterback Caelen Fraser scored the other TD for Bishop Mac.

QB Jack St. Hilaire and Ethan Bizjack scored the TDs for Lourdes. Nahome Airytr converted both and the Crusaders scored a team safety.

The Crusaders had a chance to win it late, but Bishop Mac defensive back Brendan Perozzo had an interception in his own end zone.

“We had a chance to win the game,” Camilleri said. “We had a play in the end zone and their guy made a play. They made a play and we didn’t.”

“Brendan made an excellent play,” Hamilton said. “We kind’ve had an idea of what their strength was going to be in that situation. They were going to try to air the ball out. Lourdes quarterback Jack St. Hilaire has a great arm. He’s got a cannon for an arm and he can throw the ball deep and they had a couple of receivers, more than one, make some outstanding plays today. They caught us off guard a little bit, but our DBs were able to tighten up. That’s going to be something we’re going to focus on for next week.”