Dre leads way for Bulldogs
The COVID-19 pandemic was the kick in the butt De’Ondre (Dre) Forde needed to take his football game to the next level.
“Before the pandemic, I never used to work out and didn’t work at football,” the 17-year-old St. Catharines resident said. “I was bummed out when we couldn’t play our Grade 11 season because I thought we had a really good team but now I am ready. Ever since then, I have trained every single day because I knew I needed to get better myself.”
The new and improved Forde model was on full display Thursday, scoring four touchdowns to lead the visiting Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs (2-0) to a 42-15 victory over the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons (0-2) in Niagara Region High School Athletic Association senior football action.
The 5-foot-8, 180 pounder, who played at Denis Morris in Grade 9 and then Sir Winston Churchill in Grade 10, is thrilled with how the Bulldogs have started the season.
“It is fun and exciting,” the Grade 12 student said. “We had a good team two years ago and we lost in the championship game but now we are back and we think we can win it all. We are ready to play.”
Forde feels this version of the Bulldogs is a lot different than the team in 2019.
“We have a lot more discipline,” he said. “Two years ago, we had a lot of talent but we weren’t practising right and everyone was lazy. We were taking 30 minutes to get down to the practice field but now everything is different. The culture is different. Everyone is disciplined and coming down to the field and practising hard.”
The motivation is straight forward.
“We have four or five 12Bs that came back and we just want to win it for them,” Forde said. “And we have a lot other people who want it all and this is a good team.”
Perron describes Forde as a hardworking kid.
“He never missed practices and when he is on the field he comes to play,” he said. “There has been big growth from where he was two years ago who he came to our school. He is truly now a senior playing this game.”
Perron was surprised at the transformation in Forde when he arrived at training camp.
“He came in shape and his adolescence has now gone towards manhood. He is now able to step it up to that next notch and he is able to pick things up very quickly.”
Perron was delighted with Thursday’s victory.
“The first half we were playing lethargic and I had a little chat with them with 2:26 left in the first half. I told the offence they had to score and that is when we started to put things together,” he said. “I threw that gauntlet down, they took that gauntlet and we went down the field and scored a touchdown.
“At halftime, we made our adjustments and I challenged them as to what they could do in 24 minutes.”
The Bulldog offence answered with three touchdowns and the Churchill defence replied with a pick six while holding the Gryphons to 46 net yards of offence in the second half and only two first downs.
Disaster was how Gryphons head coach Dave Sauer described Thursday’s game.
“We were playing well and then we’ve had some injuries the last couple of weeks. And then today was a mess,” he said. “We lost our No. 1 quarterback (Campbell Laroche) and then we lost our No. 2 quarterback (Kody Macrae) and we couldn’t move the ball. Guys on the other (defensive) side were sick and it was a real tough.”
The setbacks have come after a strong training camp.
“We had 45 kids and we still have 45 on our roster and things are good but we have been plagued with these injuries,” Sauer said.
He attributes the injury bug to the long layoff because of COVID.
“We started the second week of August and we had hamstring and calves (injuries) and everything. Every other day we had someone else injured and it is hard to recover from that,” Sauer said. “And when injuries, we have guys who don’t know what they are doing or where they are going.”
Bulldogs 41 Gryphons 15
BPSN Player of the Game: Churchill’s De’Ondre Forde with TD runs of 46, five, three and nine yards.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Forde, four TDs; 26-yard TD pass from Ryan Cormier to Josh Morley; 40-yard pick six by Morley.
For the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons: five-yard TD run by Torri Sowden; five-yard TD run and two-point convert on run by Kaiden Croft; fumble recovery by Westin Marr.
Game stats: Net offence: SWC 234, GFESS 234. First downs: SWC 10, GFESS 10. Turnovers SWC 1, GFESS 3. Penalties: SWC 9 for 55 yards, GFESS 10 for 60 yards.
Up next: Collegiate hosts Grimsby Oct. 14 at 12:30 p.m.