Reds QB calling the shots
Denis Morris running back James Holt heads downfield Friday in a game against the St. Francis Phoenix.
This past summer as the Niagara Spears varsity football season wound down, Denis Morris offensive coordinator Frank Popoli asked quarterback Travis Arp if he would like to call his own plays during the upcoming season.
It has been about a decade since Popoli last made a similar offer to a high school quarterback. Back then it was West Park’s Matt Beardwood.
“I’ve had him for a while and he’s pretty confident with the offence,” Popoli said. “On the sidelines, I give him suggestions based on what I’m seeing and he’s making the right calls.”
Arp jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s working out really well and it has helped me out to get to the next level as a university quarterback,” the 18-year-said Friday, after leading the visiting Reds (1-1) to a 29-16 victory over the St. Francis Phoenix in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association play. “It’s a lot more of the mental aspect of the game and I appreciate the trust he puts in me.”
So far this year, the six foot, 185-pounder feels the biggest step he has taken is in his mental game.
“If I make a mental mistake I bounce back and make sure I don’t make the same mistake again,” Arp said.
He has also had to take more of a leadership role with a young DM roster that lost many key players to graduation.
“We had a lot of Grade 10s come up so I have to stay calm and teach them,” the Grade 12 student said. “But they are such great learners and we will keep working with them and make sure they know what they are doing.”
Denis Morris head coach Rob Battista has a lot of faith in Arp.
“He’s a natural leader and when things are tight, he wants the ball and he wants to make things happen.”
Battista was in full agreement with Arp calling his own plays.
“He sees everything on the field very well and it’s just part of his natural progression.”
After Friday’s game, Arp and Reds teammate Owen Wallace were off to Carleton to check out that school and its football program. He also has visits plans to Queen’s and Windsor and will decide primarily based on education. He plans to study philosophy.
Battista wasn’t philosophical about his team’s play Friday.
“Too many penalties and mental mistakes,” he said. “Part of it is we’re a young team and the kids are learning the game and getting used to playing at the senior level.”
The Phoenix fell to 1-1 with the loss and St. Francis head coach Sean Jones was singing the same tune as Battista about his own young squad.
“The kids played hard but we made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “DM played really well and they burned us on a couple things where we made mistakes.
“We had some missed assignments, some bad decisions but the kids played about as hard as we could expect.”
Bulldogs 14 Cougars 13
Sir Winston Churchill quarterback Ben Katzman scored on a 12-yard TD run with 7:12 left in the game Friday to lead the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs to a 14-13 victory over the Centennial Cougars in Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Division 1 football action.
“It was a good battle and a helluva game,” Churchill coach Peter Perron said. “The defences prevailed on both sides.”
Churchill’s other major came on a 25-yard pass from Ben Katzman to Reid Edmands.
Josh Ferguson had 120 yards rushing for the Bulldogs and Blake Holliday and Matt Nichol contributed interceptions.
Westlane/Stamford 19 Golden Eagles 16
Westlane/Stamford evened its NRHSAA Division 1 record at 1-1 with a 19-16 victory over the Thorold Golden Eagles (1-1).
Playing well for Thorold were: Matt Christie, 48 yards rushing and a touchdown; Tyler Broderick, 118 passing yards, including a 22-yard TD pass to Hayden Dionne; Matt York, two interceptions; and, Lani Babajide, interception.
Contributing to the Westlane/Stamford win were: Darcy MacIsaac with a pair of TD receptions and an interception; Isiah May had a rushing major and a pick; and, Mike Osborne picked off two passes.
Thunder 35 Raiders 10
The Blessed Trinity Thunder improved to 2-0 in NCAA senior action Friday with a 35-10 road victory over the Holy Cross Raiders (0-2).
“They were a very physical team and we were not ready for it early on,” Thunder head coach Mark Antonelli said. “Once we got our composure and settled down, the game came to us.”
It was a good lesson for the Thunder.
“We need to be more composed for entire games moving forward,” Antonelli said.
Contributing to the BT win were: Isaac McAlonan, three TDs; Auston Kennedy, rushing major; and, Joseph Jones, TD reception from Xavier Hamidu.
For Holy Cross: Tinashe Dandato scored on a five-yard TD run; Alex Govuia had a rouge; the defence recorded a safety; Jim Walsh was 3-9 passing, including a 40-yard completion to John Serrano; and, Max Trivieri had an interception.
Reds 29 Phoenix 16
BPSN Star of the Game: Denis Morris’ Jacob Baronowski with a fumble recovery an interception and a 29-pass reception.
For the Denis Morris Reds: James Holt, 53-yard TD run: Travis Arp, TD run of two yards and two TD passes to Anthony Argueta (13 and one yard); two-point convert on pass from Arp to Argueta; Reme Madiay and Symphorien Ilunga, sacks.
For the St. Francis Phoenix: Ethan Reid, TD passes of 15 yards to Alex Payne and 33 yards to Mitch Demers; Dean Gentile, single points on kick off and missed field goal; Zach Everard, interception.