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A Perfect Finish
Dec. 3, 2017
A Perfect Finish
The bells rang out on a crisp, fall day at St. Michael's, as ACDC bounced off the surrounding buildings at the field, it signified the entrance of the best Junior Football team in Ontario. The Lorne Park Spartans came to finish the job, finish the perfect season and finish what started as a challenge delivered to every LP football player at the banquet, the previous December. Can you be perfect? The answer delivered on Wednesday at St. Michael's was a resounding yes. The Spartans finished their final opponent, winning a hard fought Metrobowl Final 16 - 6 over Chaminade College.
The setting was a suitably dramatic and exciting one for a final, as the sizable crowds from both schools cheered on their teams and now all that was left was for the teams to do battle.
The Spartans offense opened the game with a terrific drive, resulting in a td run by Liam Bowman. It was a play that could have set the tone for the entire day but the joy was shortlived as a single orange flag lying on the field brought the play back. It was a reoccurring issue early for the Spartans, as the game was called very tightly and the Spartan offense had to overcome an avalanche of calls in the first quarter. The team struggled early with adapting with calls being made for the first time this season on certain plays, but adapt they had to and they were able to put together a scoring drive with Liam Bowman breaking through the superb tackling of Chaminade's secondary with the opening score. It seemed like the Spartans had found their footing and were now ready to let its explosive offense start rolling but it was not to be on this day. As one would hope for a final, the competition was not about to just roll over and allow for a blowout win. The offense had to fight for every yard and it was an absolute fist fight. The game always felt on the edge of a blowout but the final play just wasnt there on this day. The team had played a perfect game on Saturday vs Myer and it is always challenging to play two perfect games in a row. The offense ended the half with a terrific drive, going almost the length of the entire field on a 99 yard drive. The Oline consisting of Zander Castro Wiese, Carter Parsons, Dougal Graham, James Spalding and Liam Ventresca began to impose their will and handle the formidable defensive line. But a tough call on a quarterback sneak and some tight defense on a goaline run by Chey Charles, left the Spartans with a one point lead heading into half. Charles who was such a weapon all season, kept the Chaminade defense keying on him, allowing for the offense to flow. Charles will be a dominant receiver at the senior level next season. Many great teams who blow teams out all season would not be ready to handle a close game but it is the ability to remain calm and confident in the face of a real fight and some adversity which made this team different and this team a champion. In the second half the offense came out ready to dominate and when gameday captain Nolan Dillingham, playing banged up, scorched the defense for a long touchdown run and a penalty that he had earned with his play, the team went up by 10 and it was enough on this day to secure the championship. The offense was clinical in the fourth quarter, squeezing all the air out of the ball with time consuming drives. The wide receiver crew of Braden Jauernig, Ben Rendeiro, Kam Coovadia all worked on their blocking all season and it paid off in the final and Nathan DeMontagnac once gain putting in double duty, showed his reliable hands in the underneath passing game, although his ball security is still an area for improvement. All four young men will be superb senior players. It was a display of efficiency and grit that proved to anyone watching that the team was more than just a high flying offense that couldnt win a street fight. Complimenting the effort, focus and execution of the players was the work of the coaches on the offensive side of the ball, Coach Parsons, Coach Milos and Coach Rukavina all deserve a ton of credit for having an offense that could score 50 or grind out a first down in the trenches. It was a mentally tough and physically dominant offense and it made the Spartans a nightmare to play this season, as opposing head coaches mentioned all season.
The defense had to be at peak performance with a collection of playmakers on the Chaminade side. The defense faced a well coached and speedy passing offense, with the ability to use a power run game as well. It was a formidable challenge but this group was not intimidated by anyone on the field. On the field, Lorne Park's defense dictates how a game is going to go for the opposition. As a starting unit, the defense had given up 13 points in 11 games and today was not going to be the first day it was not ready to ball. The defense absolutely came to play and it started on the defensive line. The strength began with nose tackle Zander Castro Wiese who really was the load supporting wall of the entire team. Castro Wiese simply dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Surrounding him was a collection of young men who simply would not allow for interior run or sweeps to be successful, it wasn't easy with physical crack blocks and hand fighting but Mason Tonks, Kofi Danso, Dougal Graham and Carr Hogan, absolutely held the line and let the linebackers do their work. Carr "Lightning McQueen" Hogan in particular had a monster game in the interior line, firing off the line and getting his hands up to block numerous pass attempts. Coach VanAlstine had to be proud of the work his lineman put in on this day. The linebacker due of Liam Jeewan and Max Henry had a lot of asked on them this day, to blitz, to read pass, and to watch for screens. It was a lot to ask of just two players, but both were superb all game, a tribute to the work Coach English had put in with them all season. Henry spent a great deal of the game getting pressure on the quarterback and taking away his deep throws, by speeding up his passing motion and Henry had a huge recognition and tackle of a screen play that would have gone for a long distance had he not swatted the ball down. Liam Jeewan who improved on every snap all season, showed his basketball skills with his footwork and vision when dropping into coverage, making several huge plays, including a textbook zone breakup of an underneath crossing route. And in the end it was the defensive backs who controlled the air and punished the receivers who made the mistake of coming down with a ball. Shadi Abdelmalik, again patrolling centerfield like a shark in shallow waters, just looking to pounce, took away any hope that Chaminade had of a homerun play. Cornerback Brady Farquharson delivered two dramatic interceptions, with a goalline pick in the first half that changed the momentum of the game and the pick to end the game. It was a dominant performance in the biggest game of the season. Nathan DeMontagnac also shone as a db, locking down Chaminade's best receiver all game, and delivering two huge plays, a massive hit to the running back on a sweep that might have gone for a td without the boundary being protected and an interception early in the second half that helped cool down any momentum the opposition was building. The final compliments have to go to the halfback assassin duo of Noel Hancocks and Max Ramsay. The punishment of the ferocity of their tackles and desire to win was what gave the defense its signature. They could play zone and outthink you or in the box and out hit you. They made the entire machine work and both were the type of players that a coach dreams of having, and to have both was simply an embarrassment of riches for Coach Moynihan.
And in the third and equally valuable facet of the game, the special teams were dominant as they had been all season. The kickoff unit, led by Chey Charles impressive leg, boomed a kick when needed and squibbed when it was smarter, but always successfully and the tackling and breakdowns were precise, as was needed against two very talented returners. But the special team mvp of the day was definitely Francis St. Onge who converted both his point afters, an overlooked but vital part of the game, it gave the Spartans the lead heading into the half. But St. Onge really stood out with two field flipping, game changing punts, that pinned the opposition and allowed the defense to play to its strengths, forcing Chaminade to try and drive the entire field. It was a terrific and clutch performance from St. Onge.
A final recognition must also go to all the players who did not get into the game on Wednesday but without whom the team would not have been there. The strength of the LP program is in the number of players who come out for the team. The loyalty and dedication shown by the players who would not get a lot of playing time in the playoffs but who helped the team prepare did not go unnoticed.
As the season has now come to an end, a deeply felt thank you must go to the work of the Team Managers: Maya Ivancevic, Sia Manolakis, Bish Sunner and Spencer Robson. These four amazing young men and women were absolutely vital in the success of the team this season. From helping to organize road trips so nothing important was forgotten before or after the game; filming the games; getting supplies, equipment during practices. They were all so conscientious, reliable and efficient it made for a stress free season in many ways. Their dedication in any weather and the time they volunteered was and is deeply appreciated.
As the final recap, I would like to thank Coach Grant for all his work with the website, and once again Christina Birch for her amazing gameday photos and to all the parents and guardians and family members who have been so great cheering us on at home and on the road and being so flexible and understanding with everything we ask of their sons.
The team now prepares to play no one! As all have been defeated. It was an incredible grind of games in a short period of time and the rest the guys get now is well deserved.
The Lorne Park Football Banquet will be held on Thursday, December 7 at 6:00pm at Lorne Park. It is a terrific celebration of all the hard work all the junior and senior players put in during the season. Parents and family are invited and encouraged to attend. All players already have a ticket; additional tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased by sending money in with a player by Monday or purchased at the door by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, confirming your intent to attend. The dress code for the banquet is semi-formal.
To all who read these recaps, thank you for your support and thank you for being a part of the perfect Lorne Park 2017 football season.