Patriots enter playoffs on winning note
Davion Gordon made the most of his opportunity Friday.
The backup running back for the Saint Paul Patriots senior football team had been on the receiving end of about 10 handoffs heading into the final game of the season against the visiting Saint Francis Phoenix. With Saint Paul head coach Rick Oreskovich resting many of his starters in a game that had no playoff implications, the Grade 11 player rushed for three touchdowns to power the Pats to a 36-0 victory over the Phoenix.
“He has a lot of potential,” Oreskovich said. “He just needs to gain some weight and some strength and he is going to be a prospect.”
But at least for one day, the 16-year-old got to shine in the present.
“It is a boost for him mentally. He’s a young player but he wants to see some success early and he saw some today,” Oreskovich said. “He has got great vision running the ball, he sees the openings quickly and he gets through them.”
The 5-foot-8, 130-pounder was thrilled with his performance.
“After the first one, I felt like getting two more,” he said, with a smile. “To be honest, I wanted five but three is good enough. It was a great experience.”
Gordon wanted to make the most of his opportunity.
“In Grade 11 you know you are not going to play and all the Grade 12s are going to play,” he said. “In Grade 11, you have to take advantage when it is your time to shine.”
He has two goals in mind for his football career.
“I want to keep getting better and keep scoring touchdowns.”
And, of course, he wouldn’t mind gaining some of the size his father possesses.
“He’s like 330 (pounds) and 6-foot-2,” Gordon said. “I like those genes.”
Oreskovich heads into the playoffs not sure what to make of his team.
“I just hope we can play well against the team we are up against,” he said. “We are going to practise Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and hopefully we can get better.”
Having only played four regular season games, the team is anything but a finished product.
“We are still making a lot of mistakes on offence with a lot of misunderstandings on plays, being in the wrong spots, going in the wrong directions,” he said. “It has taken a long time to teach all this information.”
The one year lost to the COVID-19 pandemic has knocked high school football programs for a loop.
“We are all behind,” Oreskovich said. “It is going to take us a year to get back to where we were and we are going to introduce some off-season stuff so the kids understand what is expected of them.”
Saint Francis wasn’t happy with the season-ending loss but pleased with how its season went in general.
“We are a young team and time and time again this team has shown it has a lot of heart,” staff advisor Carlo Girardo said. “We always have guys out for practice and they never quit on us. Even at the end of the season in the pouring rain, they still wanted to go and didn’t want the game to end. We are proud of these guys.”
The school felt it was important to field a senior team.
“We have some Grade 12 students who were super passionate about it and they led this team,” Girardo said. “They taught the younger kids how to play keeping in mind that with a year off with CIOVID, a lot of these kids were coming in and they hadn’t played before.
“To have a strong, young group of kids like we do, it is just going to help our program next year.”
Friday’s other NCAA senior game between Notre Dame and Blessed Trinity was cancelled because of poor field conditions at Notre Dame.
Patriots 36 Phoenix 0
BPSN Players of the Game: Saint Paul’s Davion Gordon with TD runs of seven nine and 10 yards
For the Saint Paul Patriots: Gordon, three TDs; 95-yard TD pass from Matthew Murray to Tyler Rankin; 20-yard TD run Lucas Vetere following a bad snap on a punt, also five converts and a rouge.
For the Saint Francis Phoenix: No scoring.
Up next: The NCAA semifinals will be played Friday at Saint Paul. Saint Paul will battle Blessed Trinity at 1 p.m. and Notre Dame will play Denis Morris at 3 p.m.
Final standings: Notre Dame 3-0; Saint Paul 3-1; Blessed Trinity 2-1; Saint Francis 0-4.