May 21 Niagara Spears report: Winless in Essex
The Niagara Spears bantam football team fell 48-8 to the Essex Ravens on the road. Photos by Scotty W. Photography.
The Niagara Spears Varsity football team saw its Ontario Provincial Football League record fall to 1-1 following a 14-11 road loss to the Essex Ravens this past weekend.
“We need to take advantage when we get into the red zone and capitalize on these opportunities,” head coach Brian Duguay said. “We played a great game on offence until we got into the red zone.”
In five trips to the red zone, the Spears came away with only nine points.
“You would like to score on opportunities but we came away with nine points out of 35,” he said. “That isn’t 50 per cent.”
Niagara’s defence allowed some passing yardage to the Ravens in the first half, but didn’t allow any points. Cole Mackinnon (Greater Fort Erie) booted three field goals and a rouge on the opening kickoff to give Niagara a 10-0 lead at the half
“Cole has really improved from last year and is reliable making field goals,” Duguay said.
Essex took advantage of a couple of broken pass coverages to scored a pair of majors in the second half while Niagara’s only score came on another rouge by Mackinnon.
“We need to minimalize our mistakes in all aspects of our game and capitalize on the opportunities that we are given,”Duguay said. “We had some penalties that helped continue their drives or move us back and put us in second and long and taking away some good field position.”
Highlights for Duguay were how his team played hard to the end, the way the offence moved the ball for the most part and a third and short stop by the defence.
“This is a character game and we need to come out on our first home game next week and have a good week of practice to make those adjustments to correct the mistakes in all three aspects of our game,” he said.
Leading the offence for Niagara were: Ethan Reid (St. Francis) 13-21 passing for 167 yards; Owen Tofano (Notre Dame), five receptions for 71 yards; Devon Schiller-Cleveland, 4-8 passing for 26 yards and four runs for 67 yards.
Top Niagara performers on defence were: Zachary Melnyk, four solo tackle and two assisted tackles; Christian Kuriata (A.N. Myer), three solo tackles and five assisted tackles; and, Jarod Tessier (Notre Dame), two tackles and three assisted tackles.
The Varsity Spears host the Kingston Junior Gaels Saturday at 8 p.m. at Kiwanis Field.
May 25 at Kiwanis field 8pm kick off
RAVENS 35 JV SPEARS 12
The Niagara Junior Varsity Spears football team fell to 0-2 in OPFL action with a 35-18 road loss to the Essex Ravens.
Marshall McCray scored on a short run for the Spears and tossed a scoring strike to Jacob Tessier.
Dayshawn Johnson added a 35-yard field goal for the Spears and Josh Morley had a strong game on defence for Niagara.
Niagara played well except for one bad quarter, head coach Bill Crawford said.
Niagara plays its home opener Saturday at 4 p.m. at Kiwanis Field versus Kingston.
RAVENS 48 BANTAM SPEARS 8
The Niagara Spears Bantam football squad opened its OPFL season with a 48-8 loss on the road against the Essex Ravens.
“We knew that the Essex Ravens were going to be a tough one for us to start this year as we have only three returning Spears players,” Spears head coach Kent Wakem said. “There is a lot of talent on the team and we are expecting improvements as the season develops.”
Against Essex, the Spears saw the Ravens control the flow of the game and Niagara was unable to gain ground until the fourth quarter.
“Our quarterback Jackson Stewart took a lot of punishment, but showed his mental fortitude and tenacity continually striving to get our offence firing,” Wakem said. “The Ravens’ defensive line took it to our offence and collapsed the pocket limiting what we could offensively for the game.
“We made a lot of mental errors on both sides of the ball that we cannot afford.”
Quinn Camp and Cole Haan had strong games on defence for the Spears. Niagara’s backup quarterback Nick Jokic connected with Nick Longo for a passing touchdown and then with Jack Wilson for the two-point convert.
“We are expecting our players to rebound from this loss next week against the Durham Dolphins,” Wakem said.
Niagara hosts the Dolphins Saturday at noon at Kiwanis Field.