Nitro dominate provincials
The Niagara Nitro travel flag football program was the class of the field at the recent Ontario championships in Georgetown.
The Nitros brought six teams to the event and captured two golds, two silvers and a berth in the semifinals.
“The consistent reputation of our teams is a very strong but classy group of players and that is worth everything seeing how the players conducted themselves all weekend,” program founder and coach Matty Hill said.
Gold medals were won by the under-18 boys and under-14 boys. Earning silvers were the under-16 girls and under-14 girls and the under-16 boys squad made it to the semifinals.
The Niagara Nitros took home the Ontario championship in convincing fashion.
The offence, led by Noah Walters, was almost perfect, Walters spread the ball around well and Darrian Barnes, Travis Boland, Jared Cappa and Trent Dobson all found the end zone multiple times and were sure-handed all day.
The defence shut down opposing offences and never allowed its opponents to gain any momentum.
Leading the way were: Eric Corriveau with big sacks; Gavin Paxton who locked down the middle; and, Dylan Devries and Graham Walters with timely interceptions.
Niagara, which went 5-0 in the event, is off to Canton Ohio, to play the best American teams.
The under-14 Nitros, coached by Hill, Cliff Ivory and Jeremy MacLeod, won in convincing fashion all day before showing strength through adversity in the championship game.
Leading the way for Niagara were: MVP play from quarterback Ezra Ivory and receiver/cornerback Mahkyi Goguen; Caleb Bahati with huge plays and winning every 50/50 ball whether at receiver or safety; Lucas Caporicci and Kiptyn MacLeod who were the focal point on defence and lead the team in interceptions and flags pulled; newcomer Jaxon Koabel who was Mr. Reliable at snapper and made clutch receptions and plays for the team; Dylan Goar who was a force at rusher; and, Ethan Bell who played a variety of positions to contribute to the team’s success.
“The highlight for the coaches was a game where we were up by a large score and the kids took it upon themselves to allow the other team to score touchdowns and stop us,” Hill said. “The class and display of sportsmanship from these young men is everything we want to preach in our league and program.”
The under-16 girls, coached Alexia Tam and Matty Hill, had a perfect tournament until a tight championship game loss to a strong Ottawa team, which they defeated in overtime in pool play.
Leading the way for Niagara were: Danica Spicer who showed she was the top quarterback in the province; overall team MVP Cate Hawkins who dominated on both sides of the ball with touchdowns and interceptions; defensive MVP Gabriella Clara who lead the team with flags pulled and had several big interceptions; Teagan Clark who recorded several sacks and made big plays on offence; Grayce Bell and Natalie Coombs who made several key catches and touchdowns; Emily Ganski who made big plays on defence; and, Charlotte Marotta and Maddie Robbins who made contributions on both sides of the ball.
“The team of all Grade 8s except one will return its whole roster next year to capture the provincial championship,” Hill said.
The under-14 girls, coached by Jason Henry, was perfect through the round-robin and playoffs only to lose a tight championship to a strong Burlington Broncos team, which the Nitros beat earlier in the day.
“This team has such a group of hard workers and is always ready to compete with the best,” Hill said.
Members of the team are Alayna Bell, Matilda Clara, Aaliyah Henry, Aly LoStracco, Abby McCormack, Juliet Mencfield, Ava Robinson, and Emma Robinson.
The under-16 boys, coached Dan Pepe, John Casasanta and Devin Stewart, went unbeaten until a tough semifinal loss against a strong Dawks Cowboys team.
Leading the way for Niagara were: Carson Casasanta who lead the team in touchdowns and interceptions; quarterback Jacob Iannizzi who played incredible all day and showed his natural leadership skills; and, Oliver Keubeck, Nicholas Gilby, Ryder Hall, Aidan Johnson, Gianni LoStracco and Parker Dolan who all played well.
The under-18 girls performed well in only their second tournament this season.
Strong efforts were provided by: Jadess Froese, who stepped up as quarterback for the first time in a tournament and perfected the hand off and made smart, short passes to gain valuable yards; Kennedy Forster who took on double duty as a consistent centre and imposing middle on defence; running backs Callie Johnstone and Layla Gallant who were swift and fierce and regularly earned a second set of downs on their running plays; Kyla Gallant and Alyssa Demore who locked down the corner positions while grabbing flag after flag; Angel Adeboye who proved to be the fastest rusher of the division; and, Mackenna MacCormack who made an impact with interceptions from the safety position.
“The girls are making incredible strides after coming together as a team just a few short weeks ago. Look out for great things from this team in future tournaments,” Hill said.