Reds show progress
Football coaches are loathe to take any pleasure in moral victories, but Denis Morris senior coach Antony Volante was feeling a little better about his squad even though it fell 20-0 to the visiting Saint Michael Mustangs Thursday in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association action.
His team trailed only 7-0 at the half and gave up two scores in the fourth quarter in what was a closer game than the final score indicated. It was a much better performance for the Reds compared to their 43-2 shellacking last week at the hands of the Blessed Trinity Thunder.
“We had a good week of practice and the boys came in and played hard until the end and that is what we are looking for,” Volante said. “We want to play every down to the best our ability and go from there.”
Volante felt the biggest difference compared to last week was having played that one game.
“Even though it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, the organization and the extra week of practice helped us get more prepared,” he said. “Saint Mike’s is a great team and they made a couple of plays and we didn’t.
“I think we had a good fighting chance in that game and we didn’t pull it out.”
Helping to give the Reds a fighting chance was rookie quarterback Josh Barber. The Grade 11 student came in in relief in the second quarter and acquitted himself well.
“I coached him a couple of years in junior and we know what he can do,” Volante said. “He’s a smart kid, a great kid and he has a great arm.
“We’re excited about what he can do moving forward and the more reps he gets, the more confident he will get.”
Barber looks a lot different even from a year ago.
“He put a lot of time in during the summer and it definitely shows,” Volante said. “From Grade 10 to Grade 11, he is a much stronger and more confident kid.”
The 15-year-old spent his summer working out with weights, going for runs and working through passing routes at West Park with his friends on the football team.
“I wanted to play well and be able to get wins for the team,” the 5-foot-9, 140-pounder said.
He admitted to having a few butterflies when he entered the game for the first time at senior.
“I was pretty nervous on the first play, but after I got it over with (with a completion) I was good to go.”
He certainly was as he completed his first three passes with excellent throws.
In his first appearance at the senior level, he found it a lot different from junior.
“It’s harder hits and bigger players,” he said.
Barber is hoping to make improvements throughout his first year of senior ball.
“I want to get more accurate with my passing and be able to see the whole field instead of just reading one side.”
Josh gets most of his football knowledge from his father Gord, who spent many years coaching senior ball at St. Francis.
“Every night he tells me what I am doing wrong and what I am do right and he’s basically helping me all the time,” Josh said. “He taught me how to throw a ball and that’s where it comes from.”
Saint Michael improved to 2-0 with the victory, but head coach Keith Bomberry agreed it wasn’t easy.
“They came out tough and we knew that was going to happen,” he said. “We didn’t have the best week of practice and we had about five guys go down with injuries, three of them starters.”
He felt that resulted in a sloppy first half for his team.
“Our timing was better in the second half and we were making better blocks and then we eliminated most of the penalties,” Bomberry said. “And Zack (quarterback Keldson) didn’t make any mistakes.”
Saint Michael’s has yet to allow a touchdown through its first two games.
“They tackle well, they are very smart and we’re bringing more pressure now,” he said. “They should be proud because those guys work very hard.”
Mustangs 20 Reds 0
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s Player of the Game: Saint Michael’s Carter Kurcz who had a strong game at both slotback and linebacker.
For the Saint Michael Mustangs: 90-yard TD pass to Riley Hart from Zack Keldson; two-yard QB keeper by Keldson for major; 25-yard TD run by Kemuel (Kmart) Jones; fumble recovery by Gage Hetherington.
For the Denis Morris Reds: sacks by Riley Lyons and Dane Belich.