July 8: Niagara Spears report: Hamilton sweeps
Following the Niagara Varsity Spears 28-14 loss to the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats last Saturday night in Ontario Provincial Football League action, the team honoured its graduating players.
Recognized were: Stamford grad Chase Bowden, who is off to Acadia University; Myer product Josh Lisi, who is heading into his second year at the University of Toronto; Myer grad Ryan James, moving on to the Hamilton Hurricanes of the Canadian Junior Football League; Notre Dame product Max Burger, heading to the Hamilton Hurricanes; Jean Vanier grad Chris Falvo; Westlane product Darcy MacIsaac, off to McMaster University; Eden alumnus William Bonner, joining the Hamilton Hurricanes; Westlane grad Rob Prior, joining the Hamilton Hurricanes; and, Eden grad Cole Parkin.
Niagara’s loss dropped the team’s record to 4-4 and the squad didn’t advance to the playoffs.
The Spears fell behind 28-0 at the half and couldn’t recover.
“Our start to the game has been an issue all year,” head coach Brian Duguay said. “We needed to be consistent. This has been a goal for us all year and we couldn’t get to that point. It is frustrating as all the coaches notices the talent we have throughout the team.”
Duguay was proud of how his team battled to the end.
“This team has a huge heart all year and always fought to the final whistle.”
Niagara was much better in the second half on both sides of the ball. In the first half, the Spears surrendered 178 yards of offence and six first downs. In the second half, they limited Hamilton to three first downs and 52 yards of offence. After managing 34 yards of offence and two first downs in the first half, Niagara rolled to 196 yards of offence and nine first downs in the final half.
Performing well for Niagara were: Ethan Reid, 4-6 passing for 46 yards, including a 37-yard TD pass to Chase Bowden and one-yard TD pass John Serrano; Bowden, 15 carries for 136 yards; Kuriata, five solo tackles, five assisted tackles and a sack; Sonny Wibowo, three solo tackles; Riley Lyons, two solo tackles and three assisted tackles; and, Zach Melnyk and Andrew Dailey, sacks.
JUNIOR TI-CATS 35 JV SPEARS 0
The Niagara Junior Varsity Spears football team concluded its regular season with a 3-5 record following a 35-0 loss Saturday to the visiting Hamilton Junior Tiger-Cats (6-1-1).
“It was a really tough day for the boys as they had a really tough opponent and severe heat to deal with,” Spears head coach Bill Crawford said. “The defence played really well in the first half holding its opponent to 10 points, but with the offence not finding a rhythm early and a couple turnovers, the defence was on the field too long in that heat to hold.”
The Spears record earned them the final playoff spot in their division.
“We now have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs against a team we have had some success against,” Crawford said. “With a little hard work over the next two weeks, I think our boys can shock a lot of people.”
JUNIOR TI-CATS 40 BANTAM SPEARS 25
There was plenty to like despite the Niagara Bantam Spears football team dropping a 40-25 decision to the Hamilton Junior Tiger-Cats last weekend.
“The first time we played Hamilton three weeks ago, the game was over in the first quarter. We were playing for survival,” head coach Simon Gichard said. “This week, we were playing to win and we were competitive all game, but we fell short in the fourth quarter.”
Hamilton scored five touchdowns to the Spears’ four.
“We need to clean up our point after attempts (PAT) and PAT defence, which also hurt our final score,” he said.
The Spears received numerous compliments from multiple sources on the vast improvement in their game.
“It meant a lot to the team, hearing all the positive comments,” Gichard said. “We’re definitely going in the right direction.”
Gichard attributes the vast improvement on returning to fundamentals, being consistent in execution and team buy-in.
“The quality of our practices have dramatically increased, we have shifted our focus to fundamentals and team discipline and the results are starting to show on the field. It was great seeing the boys have fun today”.
Niagara generated 16 first downs and 228 yards of offence with nine different players touching the ball. Nick Longo led the attack with 164 all purpose yards, including a 40-yard receiving TD and a 75-yard kick return for a major. Jackson Stewart was 6-for-9 passing for 100 yards and rushed for 25 yards. Also scoring majors for the Spears were Cole Hann with a 14-yard TD reception and Tyler Crawford with an eight-yard rushing touchdown. Max Heron and Cameron Newbold combined for 29 carries and 72 hard-earned rushing yards between the tackles.
Niagara’s defence forced four punts, a turnover on downs and recovered a fumble.
Top performers on defence for Niagara were: Wyatt Brown, five solo tackles, three assisted tackles and a batted ball; Matthew Gichard, one solo tackle and six assisted tackles; and, Ryan Broome, one solo tackle, one assisted tackle, a sack and a fumble recovery.
“It was nice to see all the defensive players registering stats and contributing today,” Gichard said.
The bantams (0-7) travel to Aurora Saturday at 5 p.m. to take on the Vaughan Rebels (2-5).