Flyers open with victory
Riley Taylor made the most of his first appearance in an Eden Flyers senior football uniform.
“It was amazing to get a touchdown on the first drive,” he said, after scoring two touchdowns to lead the Flyers to a 24-2 victory over the St. Catharines Collegiate Saints in the opening game of Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 2 season. “That was one of the most amazing things I’ve felt in my life.
“I have scored many touchdowns in my life, but doing it with my friends here and all the students was a lot of fun.”
Taylor played junior football at Orchard Park before transferring to Eden in the fall of 2018 when his family moved to the Beamsville area.
‘It was here or Beamsville high school and I had more friends here.”
Under transfer rules, he had to sit out a year before suiting up for Eden.
“It was very hard for me to see everyone else doing something,” Taylor said. “When they made a mistake, I was thinking I could go in and do the same or a little better.”
He made sure he kept involved with the team during last season.
“I went to every practice, I watched every game and I made sure I was diligent with my time,” the six-foot, 225-pounder said. “After practices, I would go to the weight room and work out.”
Eden head coach Jeff Webster is glad to have Taylor on his squad.
“He is probably our biggest, fastest and strongest player,” he said. “If he can stay healthy, he is probably a legitimate CIS (U Sports) calibre player.
“He is a true athlete and if he can get himself durable enough, he can probably play running back at the next level as a power back.”
Taylor’s running helped make Webster a winner in his head coaching debut at Eden. It was far from the prettiest game, but there’s no room for a description in the win column.
“If you told me yesterday when I walked off the practice field that this would be the result, I would have been a pretty happy,” Webster said. “All in all, it is what it is and we will take the win. What’s the line? On to next week.”
Webster, who took over for Jordan Smith, played university football at York University and had a 10-year coaching career at the University of Guelph, York and McMaster. His longest stint was seven years as an assistant at Guelph, where his roles included recruiting coordinator, special teams coordinator, receivers coach, running backs coach and pretty much everything else.
While living in Toronto, he coached high school football at Toronto Northern and Lawrence Park.
Before becoming head coach at Eden, he was Smith’s defensive coordinator.
“When they approached me (to be head coach), I basically gave them a laundry list that I felt needed to be done to make it worth the time to do it,” Webster said. “To the credit of Sharon Burns the principal, Paul Hurd who is the junior coach and teacher rep, and the athletic director Stephanie Pavlovich, they’ve approved all the requests that I had.”
His list included: the school starting a booster club; giving the team the ability to start fundraising; the implementation an off-season plan endorsed by the principal; and, the principal coming out to speak to the team.
Webster has a small roster to work with.
“We are 21 kids and they are ridiculously inexperienced,” he said. “We had a very experienced team last year and it just wasn’t meant to be.
“This year, our first 16 kids are very athletic and they are far better athletes than I ever was at that age.”
Starting quarterback Sam Miele and three of the teams four receivers have never played football before and they’re not alone.
“The games that we will win, we will win on our athleticism,” Webster said. “A lot of kids came from the rugby team and they’re fast, they’re quick with their feet and they think very well running at full speed.”
Flyers 24 Saints 2
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s Player of the Game: Eden’s Riley Taylor with TD runs of seven and 25 yards.
For the Eden Flyers: Taylor, two TDs; four-yard TD pass from Sam Miele to Avrein Paul; Nick Howarth, 60-yard return of fumble recovery; sack by Stuart Huebert; two defensive safeties.
For the St. Catharines Collegiate Saints: Tyler Gearing, interception; defensive safety.
Game stats: First downs: Eden 12, SCC 9. Net offence: Eden 180, SCC 143. Turnovers: Eden 2, SCC 6. Penalties: Eden 10 for 65 yards, SCC 13 for 82 yards.