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Spartans Roch Ravens in Semi-Final
Nov. 10, 2017
Spartans Roch Ravens in Semi-Final
WR Ryan Di Florio goes for a run after one of his three catches. [Photo: Christina Birch]
For the fourth time in five years, the Lorne Park Spartans are off to the ROPSSAA Championship following a thorough dismantling of the St. Roch Ravens in the semi-final game on Thursday.
After the Ravens handed them their only regular season loss, the Spartans answered the bell in the rematch. Lorne Park dominated the game early in all three phases, building a 22-0 first half lead before shutting it down and cruising to a 22-6 win.
With a strong wind in their face, the Spartans barely got the opening kickoff out of the endzone, and a quick two-and-out set the Ravens up with a short field. The Lorne Park defense would force a punt three plays later, and the Spartans found themselves right back in the same situation, pinned deep in their own end.
RB Frank Mensah took the ball out to the Lorne Park 15, then QB Christian Smodis scrambled out to the 26-yard line. Smodis then rifled one out wide to WR Riley Farquharson for 19 yards, and the Spartans were on the move. Mensah plowed forward for another five yards, then Chris Haggart took a direct snap down to the St. Roch 30. On the next play, Smodis found RB Jakob Page in the right flat, and Page scampered into the endzone to put the Spartans up 7-0 with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.
Noah Tauskela recovered the ensuing onside kick for Lorne Park, giving Smodis and the offense the ball at the Ravens 51-yard line. Smodis continued to sling it into the wind, connecting with WR Ryan Di Florio for 32 yards, and a late hit on the QB put the ball at the St. Roch five. Lorne Park was unable to find the endzone on this trip, however, settling for a 10-yard Luke Tejerina field goal that put them up 10-0 with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
The Ravens took the ball on the 35, but continued to struggle against a tough Spartans defense. As the quarter came to an end, Lorne Park had the ball at the St. Roch 52, and a strong wind at their back.
Smodis opened the following drive with another strike to Farquharson for 17 yards, then Page pushed the pile up the middle for another seven, but Ravens DT Brandon Frimpong sacked Smodis on second and long, forcing the Spartans to punt the ball away.
Deep in their own end, heading into the strong wind, the Ravens conceded a safety on their next possession extending the Lorne Park lead to 12-0.
On the first play of the next drive from the Spartans 35, Page blasted up the middle for 17 yards. Smodis then found Farquharson for an 11-yard gain and Page ripped off another 16 yards. The drive stalled at the St. Roch 10, and the Spartans settled for a field goal to go up 15-0 with a few minutes remaining in the half.
As they had been doing all half, the Lorne Park defense held true, and the Spartans got the ball back at the Ravens 45 with under a minute to play in the half.
Smodis wasted no time, launching one down the sideline to Di Florio for 39 yards, then hitting WR Jared Benson on his knees in the endzone from 11-yards out.
Up 22-0 at halftime, the Spartans were able to shut it down in the second half and cruise to a 22-6 victory in front of dozens of loyal Spartans fans who braved the conditions and made the trip north. The David Suzuki Grizzlies, who defeated St. Roch 18-17 last week were also in attendance, taking the time to shake hands with the Spartans players after the game in an emotional scene involving the only two public school teams in ROPSSAA Tier 1 Football. The Grizzlies took the Spartans to a 0-0 draw back in September, and remain the only team the Spartans were unable to beat in the 2017 season.
Christian Smodis finished the day 12 of 21 for 201 yards, two touchdown and two interceptions. Riley Farquharson had four receptions for 54 yards with Ryan Di Florio adding three catches for 74 yards. Jakob Page led all Spartan backs with 92 yards on nine carries.
For the Ravens, QB Aman Auijla was 6 of 14 for 48 yards. Anthony Miller led all St. Roch receivers with two receptions for 21 yards, and RB Juwan Jeffrey pounded out 59 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
With the win, the Spartans advance to the ROPSSAA Championship where they'll play the first place St. Marcellinus Spirit at Etobicoke Centennial Stadium on Wednesday, November 15th at 11:00. Tickets can be purchased through both schools.
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