Simcoe and Centennial open with gridiron wins
The Governor Simcoe Redcoats senior football team opened its Niagara Region High School Athletic AssociationTier 2 season in dramatic fashion Thursday by recording a 16-10 overtime victory over the visiting Grimsby Eagles.
Last year’s finalist and the Eagles ended regulation play tied 10-10 and Grimsby had the first overtime possession starting at the Simcoe 35-yard line. On the Eagles first possession, they fumbled and the ball was recovered by Alex Reynen. Simcoe opened its overtime possession with an incomplete pass and then won the game when quarterback Andrew Scott hooked up with Reynan for a game-winning, 35-yard scoring strike.
In regulation time for the Redcoats, Max Grant scored on a 30-yard pass from Scott and Danny Lewis booted a 30-yard field goal. Defensively, Nick Spanyi, Jordan Wayland and Reynen had fumble recoveries and interceptions were recorded by Spanyi, Grant and Lewis.
“We had a much better second half after having lots of penalties in the first half,” Simcoe head coach Jamie Brophy said. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot but it being our first game, we kind of expected that there would be a couple of growing pains in that respect.”
Brophy was impressed with the Eagles.
“Grimsby is a good team,” he said. “They have a really nice running back and they have some size so it was a good battle for us.”
For Grimsby, Nathan Duncan caught a 33-yard TD pass from Evan Reece and Reece Baltus booted a 23-yard field goal.
“It was a very competitive game and great battle to start the season,” Grimsby head coach Zack Silverthorne said. “Having six turnovers to two really hurt us and we need to protect the ball better.”
The Eagles were hurt by big plays.
“In football, you have to make plays and we got beat by three long balls,” he said. “The coverage was there but their receiver just wanted the ball more than we did.”
Silverthorne felt the heat and a few injuries hindered his team’s play calling.
“Our boys hope we get another crack at them November.”
Grimsby won the Tier 2 title in 2017 and competed at the Tier 1 level last season before rejoining Tier 2 in 2019.
“Our program took a huge step backwards trying Tier 1,” he said. “Running varsity with no junior team didn’t allow us to play the 9/10s like we needed to which resulted in frustration and fewer numbers.”
This season, Grimsby has only one Grade 9 player and four Grade 10s.
“Why would you practice and never play?”
The team has eight players from Beamsville which helps bring the roster to 35 players.
COUGARS 27 GOLDEN EAGLES 7
The visiting Centennial Cougars opened the NRHSAA Tier 2 football season Thursday night with a 27-7 victory over the defending champion Thorold Golden Eagles.
For Centennial: MJ Doyle-Marshall recovered a fumble and ran it back 70 yards for a TD and also added a TD run of five yards; Garvin Leavens had a 20-yard TD run; Ethan Robertson threw a 30-yard TD pass to Josh Boyle; and, Centennial player of the game honours went to Tommy Leavens, who recorded eight tackles, a sack and had a great game at centre.
“It has been a couple of seasons since we have been able to start the year with a win and obviously it feels good compared to the other possibility,” Centennial head coach Dom Nero said.
Nero likes what he has on the field this season.
“It is probably the best offensive and defensive line that I can ever remember coaching during my time at Centennial,” he said. “That is where our strength is and we have two really good running backs who run the ball really hard every play.”
Centennial was supposed to play Tier 1 football this season but decided in September to move down to the Tier 2 level.
“Unfortunately we had a big drop in our senior numbers because players we anticipated coming back didn’t come back for one reason or another,” Nero said.
Centennial has 52 players on its roster but less than 20 are of senior age.
“For me, it’s really important to offer senior football and our juniors are going to grow a bit and we will give them an opportunity to get in some games as well,” Nero said.
He is hoping that Centennial running a varsity team is only a one-year blip.
“Doing it just gutted me because David Lavictoire and I were the first junior coaches here when Phil Mosley started a junior team in 2009,” Nero said. “It is the first year we haven’t offered some kind of junior football and it’s definitely my goal to have a junior team again next year and be back in Tier 1 with our seniors.”
Thorold was also scheduled to play Tier 1 this season but was able to move down to Tier 2 when Centennial moved down.
Thorold head coach Duane Kemp was more than OK with remaining in Tier 2.
“We would have battled as best we can in D1, but we would of struggled and not have given those teams good games,” he said. “We are back where we belong and it should be a very competitive league. I’m looking forward to the season. We have a lot of teaching to do.”
The four remaining teams in Tier 1, Westlane, A.N. Myer and Greater Fort Erie, will play each other twice.
For Thorold Thursday: Brodie Gibson had 11 tackles; Yvan Canlas hit Evence Denave on a 45-yard TD pass; Nate Brew had three catches for 25 yards; and, Matt York recorded one catch for seven yards.
Thorold trailed 21-0 at the half
“We had a lot of first-game jitters that showed but we stuck with it, made some adjustments and had a much better second half,” Kemp said. “We turned the ball over three times and all three times it led to Centennial points.”
Kemp is not discouraged with the loss.
“We have a long way to go, but if they buy in, we could be a contender. Our goal is still to win the last one,” he said. “Overall, I was pleased with compete level in second half. We could have been blown out.”
Garvin Leavens was a handful Thursday.
“He broke several tackles and we will need to focus on breaking down, staying low and using proper form,” Kemp said.