Patriots outlast Phoenix
Jarrel Pappin started and finished the job for the St. Paul Patriots Thursday.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student rushed for a pair of touchdowns and also played a key role on defence at middle linebacker as the Patriots edged the St. Francis Phoenix 19-15 in a Niagara Catholic Athletic Association senior football game at St. Francis.
Pappin began the scoring for the Pats with a two-yard plunge early in the game, then capped things off with a one-yard run with two minutes remaining.
“It felt really good,” Pappin said. “I’ve been trying all year to help the team win.
“It’s all about contributing to the team and helping my teammates out and doing what I can for the team.”
St. Paul assistant coach Mark Antonelli gushed with praise when asked about Pappin.
“We have a couple of plays named after him,” Antonelli smiled. “He’s got heart. He’s an emotional kid but at the same time he just says, ‘Yes, coach’. He just wants to win.
“He’s that hammer we need on defence. We can’t win without him.”
Pappin played for the Niagara Spears in the past, but took last season off to work.
“I want to see how far I can go in football,” he said. “I love it.”
When pressed, he admitted defence comes first.
“I just enjoy being on the field, but I’d say linebacker. I like defence. I like hitting people. It’s fun.”
It was the first win of the season for the Patriots, who dropped their first two games.
“The training and practice were good and we came together as a team and got the win,” Pappin said. “It’s about the team relationship and the team bond. We made it better and got everybody on the same page so we’re good from here on out.”
Antonelli was thrilled how the Patriots battled against a tough, gritty Phoenix squad.
“It is all about them,” Antonelli said. “We challenged them last week to be better and to a man, every single kid has been at practice the last couple of days.
“They earned it. They deserved it. They realized what they needed to do.”
Both teams tipped their caps to each other following an emotional game filled with punishing hits.
“We had this game circled for a few weeks,” Antonelli said. “We were worried about St. Francis. They’re a physical team. I give them credit.
“It reminded me of a 1990s game. It felt like I was in high school again.”
Antonelli is hopeful the effort carries over for the Pats, who play twice next week.
“This was like a playoff game,” he said. “It was fun. I think this was the type of game we needed.
“It could turn our season around.”
Phoenix coach Jim Whittard saw his charges drop to 1-2.
“We had some execution issues,” he said. “Our defence was our pillar of strength.
“We have a great bunch of kids with a lot of heart. St. Paul is very well coached so I have a lot of respect for them. It was a great battle.”
Johnny Rocco’s/Mick and Angelo’s Star of the Game: St. Paul’s Jarrel Pappin with two rushing touchdowns while also anchoring the defence at middle linebacker.
For the St. Paul Patriots: Pappin, two touchdowns; Richard Warner, touchdown reception; Nicholas Abbruscato, one convert.
For the St. Francis Phoenix: Quinton Duemo, touchdown reception; Mitchell Demers, touchdown run; Lucas Baiocco, two converts, one single.
Through the air: St. Paul quarterback Devon Schiller-Cleveland, 10-for-17, one TD, two interceptions; St. Francis quarterback Ethan Reid, 8-for-16, 1 TD.
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