June 17 Niagara Spears report: Winless weekend
The Niagara Varsity Spears football team fell to 3-3 in Ontario Provincial Football League action following a 14-8 overtime loss to the Durham Dolphins in Durham.
“We continue to lower our game instead of playing our game and dictating the tempo of the game,” Spears head coach Brian Duguay said. “We come out and score on our first possession, then we couldn’t block, couldn’t catch and forgot our assignments.
“We are in Week 6 of the season and we should know assignments. It’s frustrating we are unable to put two strong games in a row.”
Duguay pointed to his team’s preparations for producing the result it had against Durham.
“Our practices last week were too loose and we need to come to practice focused on the task at hand and work on cleaning up on our mistakes,” he said. “The players are capable. They just need to focus.”
Niagara’s touchdown came on a pass from Ryan James to Kyle Wilson, followed by a convert from Winfield Organ. The Dolphins lead stood until there was two seconds left in the game before Niagara tied it with a rouge.
Duguay lamented about his team’s missed opportunities.
“We fumbled on the goal line twice, we dropped passes we normally make and we missed blocking assignments.”
The Varsity Spears kept the Durham offence in check for most of the overtime before the Dolphins got the ball in the end zone on three straight running plays. Niagara blocked the point after and then the game ended when Niagara threw an interception on its second down.
Top performers for Niagara on defence were: Curtis Neilson, four solo tackles and one assisted tackle; Caleb Hetherington, two solo tackles, one assisted tackle and a tackle for a loss; and, Rob Prior, three solo tackle, one assisted tackle and two tackles for losses.
Leading the way on offence were: James, 10-for-25 passing for 125 yards and a six-yard TD pass to Wilson; Chase Bowden, 15 carries for 91 yards; and, Organ, convert and rouge.
Niagara hosts the first-place London Junior Mustangs (5-1) Saturday at 8 p.m. at Kiwanis Field.
DOPLHINS 42 JV SPEARS 0
The injury-plagued Niagara Junior Varsity Spears also saw their record drop to 3-3 following a 42-0 road loss at the hands of the Durham Dolpins.
Cameron Park led Durham with 307 passing yards and four rushing majors.
“We don’t travel well for some reason and I don’t know what it is,” Niagara head coach Bill Crawford said. “We have injuries and we are also down a couple linemen now as well.
“Each week it’s next man.”
Of the 46 players on the Niagara roster, 26 are in their first year.
“We are very young at a lot of positions and it’s a learning curve,” he said. “They have to build the chemistry. Guys have been doing a good job when they get out on the field, but our biggest problem is execution because we have so many second- and third-stringers stepping into roles and little things are off.”
Things don’t get any easier for Niagara as it hosts the London Junior Mustangs (6-0) Saturday at 4 p.m. at Kiwanis Field.
“They are a very, very well-coached team and are in first place in the league,” Crawford said. “We have our work cut out for us the next two weeks.”
TI-CATS 48 BANTAM SPEARS 13
There were a number of positives despite the Niagara Bantam Spears football team dropping a 48-13 decision to the Hamilton Varsity Tiger Cats in play last weekend.
“Today was a good step in the right direction for our boys,” head coach Simon Gichard said. “We have made a lot of changes and the kids have only risen to that challenge.”
Gichard feels consistency will be key for the bantams in the upcoming weeks.
“We moved the ball at times today on offence and made stops on defence as well, but we need to work hard on our fundamentals and scheme execution,” he said.
The highlights of the game for Niagara were defensive touchdowns by Colten Kizlyk in the first quarter and Jack Wilson in the third quarter.
“Having a short bench presents a lot of challenges,” Gichard said. “It was nice to see different kids volunteering to go on the field to contribute.”
The Bantam Spears (0-5) host the London Junior Mustangs (3-1-1) Saturday at noon at Kiwanis Field.