Irish win battle of unbeatens: Saint Paul tops Lakeshore
Notre Dame’s Dayshawn Johnson had some high points and low points during his team’s 29-7 victory over the Blessed Trinity Thunder Friday in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association senior football action.
The high points were a 71-yard TD reception and an interception while the lows were a couple thunderous hits he was on the receiving end of during the game. The first came on a kick return by the Thunder when he was blocked so hard that he landed on his helmet out of bounds. The second came when he took a wicked hit to the midsection trying to catch a ball near the end of the game. After receiving both hits, the 17-year old reacted with a huge smile on his face.
“We’re winning the game,” the 12B student said of his smiles. “You have to be smiling when you are winning the game.”
His long touchdown was his highlight of the game.
“We couldn’t play them last year because the game got cancelled because of weather so they have been talking all last year and this year about how they could have beat us last year so we wanted to come in today and show them.”
Johnson’s big plays Friday were a continuation of what he had done his entire football career at Notre Dame.
“I have always been that person. I always want the ball and when it comes to big plays I always want the ball in my hands.”
Notre Dame head coach Tim Bisci has come to expect big plays from Johnson.
“All the time that he has been with us he has been that big play guy, even defensively. In three of the last four games last year, he had pick sixes and one was for 108 yards. That is the kind of guy he is.”
And that’s the kind of guy he was Friday.
“He was upset when we couldn’t get a throw to him and I made a joke that all he had to say was please and I would get him the ball,” Bisci said. “We happened to see a set that we liked and he made a great catch and run.”
Johnston returned for 12B with one goal in mind.
“The goal coming back was obviously to make it to OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations bowl game) again. We wanted to be the No. 1 team in Canada and we wanted to play St. Thomas More because they were the No. 1 team in Canada. We got a disappointing game at OFSAA last year and hopefully this year we will play someone better.”
Notre Dame improved to 5-0 with the win.
“We are still piecing it together and offensively we have to do a little but better job of blocking. If we do that, I think we are right where we want to be,” Bisci said.
Defensively, the Irish were stellar.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” he said. “They had six shots inside our 10-yard line and couldn’t get anything. That lets people know that our defence is for real.”
Blessed Trinity came into Friday’s game with a 4-0 record and a belief that they could go toe to toe with the Irish.
“There was absolute belief before the game even started but I think it is really tough to overcome adversity when the first play of the game is intercepted for a touchdown,” BT head coach Brad Hubbard said. “Turnovers were probably the theme of the game for them and three of them were in very key situations. Notre Dame is a very good team and if we have any chance of competing with them for our quarters, we can’t turn the ball over four times.”
Blessed Trinity’s belief in itself came from familiarity with the defending champion Irish.
“We’ve seen film and we’ve seen them play live and we are confident in the athletes that we have,” Hubbard said. “One of the key attributes of coaching is making sure your teammates believe they have an opportunity to win. When they are confident, they can execute correctly.”
He felt there was a lot to like about his team’s play Friday.
“I was happy with how they responded after the pick six and I think our defence played really well in response. They have some very good players and if we are going to have any chance at competing and have an opportunity to win, we are going to have to play mistake-free football.”
The two teams will meet again in the championship game Nov. 10.
“They are a good team,” Bisci said. “They run the ball really well, they threw it effectively and we have to get better at defending that. Our linebackers are young, they are all Grade 11s, and they have to learn to play against the passing. Hopefully we will shore it up in the net two weeks and move on.”
Fighting Irish 29 Thunder 7
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Notre Dame’s Dayshawn Johnson with an interception and a 71-yard TD catch.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Johnson, TD and pick; 39-yard TD pass from Marshall McCray to Jordan Huggins; six-yard TD run by McCray; 35-yard pick six by Dylan Correia; two-point concert on pass from McCray to Jehmal Wayne; fumble recovery by Leighton Boca; interception by Colton Kizlyk.
For the Blessed Trinity Thunder: one-yard QB keeper by Johnny Green; fumble recovery and sack by Ethan Rakonjac; sack by Chase Balice.
Game stats: Net offensive yards: Irish 262, Thunder 139. First downs: Irish 13, Thunder 9. Turnovers: Irish 1, Thunder 4. Penalties: Irish 8 for 85 yards, Thunder 8 for 55 yards.
PATRIOTS 34 GATORS 0
The Saint Paul Patriots senior football team improved to 3-2 in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association play with a 34-0 victory over the Lakeshore Catholic Gators.
Scoring for the Patriots were: Davion Gordon on a 25-yard reception from Matt Murray; Elijah Pappin on a 25-yard run; Matt Murray on a five-yard run; and, Julian Mangicasale with touchdowns runs of five and 10 yards.
Saint Paul’s defence was led by James Zarafonitis, Derek Amores, Niko Herjavec, Mike Schram, Tanner Erogul, Josh Upper, Carter Yott, Jack Bush, Mateo Asterino, John Campbell and Marco Gruosso.
Lakeshore fell to 0-5 with the loss.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do but our coaches and kids are motivated,” Lakeshore coach Bernie Tessier said.