Phoenix QB a cool customer
Saint Francis receiver Mitch Demers is hit in the back as he attempts to catch a pass during Friday’s football game against the Holy Cross Raiders. Photo by: BERNIE PUCHALSKI
There was little rest for Saint Francis quarterback Ethan Reid this summer.
After quarterbacking the Niagara junior varsity Spears in the Ontario Provincial Football League, the 16-year had only a short spell to rest before being back on the field.
“I find the high school football season is a way to improve my game over the off-season,” the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder said.
This past summer with the Spears, he completed 52.1 per cent of his passes for 1,219 yards and threw 10 TDs versus six interceptions.
“Over the summer, I played in the OPVL which is a triple A division so working with the coaches there greatly improved my game,” the Grade 11 student said.
Reid showed that improvement Friday by connecting on a pair of long TD passes to lead the visiting Phoenix to a 15-5 victory over the Holy Cross Raiders in the teams’ opening game of the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association season.
“There are still things I have to improve but my reads have been a lot better,” he said. “I’m not forcing too many balls. If I cut that down, I will be a lot better.”
Saint Francis head coach Sean Jones likes what Reid brings to the field.
“He’s an experienced guy for his age,” he said. “He has played a lot of football in high school and outside of it. He usually makes pretty good decisions and the guys look to him as a leader and a guy who can help and be a coach on the field.”
With Saint Francis needing a quarterback last season, Reid stepped in and filled the role admirably.
“He’s very composed and we saw that last year when he was our Grade 10 quarterback,” Jones said. “He allows himself the opportunity to make reads and make decisions which help us a lot.”
Reid, Mitch Demers, Dean Gentile and Phil Spagnoli are all expected to provide leadership for a Saint Francis team that boasts a 36-man roster.
“It (roster size) is better than it has been in previous years, but a fair number of the kids are juniors,” Jones said. “It’s not a real true indication of playing strength and you hope as the season goes along you can coach up some of the younger kids. And you encourage the guys to eat some cheeseburgers and put on some weight.”
It’s the first time in the past decade that Saint Francis hasn’t had a junior program.
“It’s pure numbers and available coaching staff as well,” Jones said.
Holy Cross head coach Jim Craig saw a lot of positives in Friday’s game.
“We are disappointed with the loss but we did a lot of good things. We moved the ball and we stopped them.”
Holy Cross had 13 first downs compared to five for Saint Francis, but the Phoenix cashed in with two long touchdown passes.
“I am very happy with this team,” Craig said. “They have size and they have speed and athleticism. We’re hoping we can get more reps and put it together.”
Holy Cross returned 18 players from last season and key veterans on this year’s roster are running back Tinashe Dandato, who rushed for more than 100 yards Friday, Todd Vande Wetering and Christian Hernandez.
Contributing to the win for Saint Francis were: Reid, TD passes to Zack Everard (55 yards) and Alex Payne (48 yards); Devon Spiers and Carson Provenzano, sacks; John Kunej, fumble recovery; and, Gentile, single point on punt.
For Holy Cross, Alejandre Gouveia booted a 17-yard field goal and Donald Hingston and Joe Croce recorded interceptions.
Thunder 41 Reds 9
The Blessed Trinity Thunder senior football team wants everyone to know it’s not messing around.
Following a 41-9 victory Friday over the the Denis Morris Reds, the reigning Niagara Catholic Athletic Association champs, head coach Mark Antonelli wasn’t shy about sharing his team’s goals with the entire Niagara football fraternity.
“We are not looking for one championship. We are looking for three championships,” he said. “I want the Catholic one, I want SOSSA and I want OFSAA. We’re not gun shy here and this is what we want.”
Antonelli felt the win over Denis Morris sent a message to other teams with dreams of a championship.
“No one ever talks about us,” he said. “I know I am sounding a little abrasive but at the end of the day, I hope that people start to notice that Blessed Trinity is a football team in the Niagara region and we’re not just a stop on the way to the Hamilton region.
Antonelli describes this year’s version of the Thunder as the culmination of a three-year plan.
“Two years ago, I came back to Blessed Trinity and I had an opportunity at the last minute to help out with the senior program and there wasn’t a lot of bodies there,” he said. “We made it work, we did what we could and the next year the juniors had a lot of success. The next year, some of those guys came up and this year the rest of those guys came up.
“The third year I earmarked it as a potential championship year.”
The Reds are coming off two straight NCAA championships, but they graduated many of their key players. That being said, it wasn’t one of their better performances Friday.
“They were more physical that we were,” Reds head coach Rob Battista said. “They came here ready to play and our guys goy knocked around a little bit. Everybody started looking around wondering what they were doing and we weren’t flowing on defence and on offence they weren’t running the proper patterns and missing blocks.
“There were a lot of mental mistakes and hopefully we can clean them up next week.”
Scoring TDs for Blessed Trinity Friday were: Isaac McAlonan, TD runs of 50 and 10 yards; Xavier Hamidu, scoring rushes of 10 and 50 yards; and, Austin Kennedy, TD scampers measuring 60 and 38 yards.
James Holt scored the Reds lone major on an impressive 80-yard run. Elijah Benoit and Jacob Barnowski had interceptions for Denis Morris.
Fighting Irish 19 Patriots 2
Notre Dame opened the NCAA senior football season Thursday with a 19-2 victory over the visiting Saint Paul Patriots.
Contributing to the Notre Dame victory were Brandon Graziano with an eight-yard run; Jacob Snyder with a two-yard TD run; and, Jonah Gruarin with a 26-yard field goal.
Both teams gave up two-points safeties.
Mustangs 20 Gators 17
The Lakeshore Catholic Gators fell 20-17 to the Saint Michael Mustangs Thursday in NCAA senior football action.
Riley Hart had two kick returns for majors to lead Saint Michael and Zack Keldson hit Carter Kurcz with a 13-yard scoring strike.
Contributing for Lakeshore were: Corey Vazquez, four-yard TD run; Dayle Schroeder, eight-yard scoring run; and, Ryan Labelle with a 25-yard field goal.