Spears come close
The Niagara Varsity Spears saw its Ontario Summer Football League playoff run come to an end with a 35-29 road loss to the Cornwall Wildcats.
The Spears trailed 21-2 at the half before rallying to make the game a tight contest in the second half.
“I’m really proud of the players. We fought from 19 points down and never gave up. Even with one second on the clock, they continued to battle,” Spears head coach Brian Duguay said. “Unfortunately, this wasn’t our day to be on the winning side.”
Duguay thanked everyone for dedication and commitment.
“We were able to get out after having a two-year break, get back on the field and play in a very competitive league. You can see the development and dedication of all the players. I wish all the graduating players the best of luck in their future endeavours. All the coaches are applauded for their time and commitment, along with the trainers and the team manager.”
Cornwall grabbed a 7-0 lead before Niagara responded with a safety by William Horrace. The Spears moved the ball on the ground but were unable to capitalize and trailed 21-2 at the half.
“At halftime, I told the players we outperformed them even though it didn’t show on the score board,” Duguay said. “We just needed to dig deeper and capitalize on our opportunities and to play our game. We got the long bus ride out of our system and were able to go play.”
Niagara opened the second half with a 12-yard TD run from Elijah Pappin but Cornwall responded with a major to lead 28-9 going into the fourth quarter.
A five-yard TD pass from Marshall McCray to Ethan Krick and a two-yard scoring strike from McCray to Danny Lewis cut the lead to 28-22. Cornwall responded with a major to jump ahead 35-22 but Niagara didn’t fold. With 22 seconds left in the game, Spears completed a double pass from McCray to Jacob Tessier who tossed it 26 yards to Lucas Johnsen for a touchdown. With one second left in the game, Tessier caught an onside kick in full stride and was able to race all the way to the Cornwall seven-yard line before being tackled.
Leading the offence for Niagara were: Lewis, TD catch and three converts; Krick and Johnsen, TD catches; Pappin, 87 yards rushing, five yards in receptions and a TD; and, McCray,13-26 passing for 158 yards and 128 rushing yards.
On defence, Justin Savoie had six assist tackles, Kylen Azem-Simmons had three assist tackles and Keynan Aird had a solo tackles and four assist tackles.
Next up for the Spears is its award banquet Aug. 11 followed by a development camp. Information about the camp is found below.
The Niagara Bantam Spears saw its season come to an end with a 28-3 loss to the Brantford Bisons.
“Although this team had greater aspirations of playing in the championship game next week, this season can only be considered a smashing success. The Bantam Niagara Spears competed every week against squads much larger in numbers and did not surrender,” coach Austin Huh said. “Riddled with injuries to key players throughout this season on a roster that was already undermanned, our boys performed courageously and elevated their game to heights beyond their expectations. This growth in our team this season has created tremendous anticipation for next year’s season.”
Huh is excited for what lies ahead.
“Our spirits are far from dead, rather our spirits are charged with excitement and optimism. From a football perspective, our goal is always focused on building a championship program in Niagara. But our mission as an organization is to invest in young people so one day they will invest in others to build a healthy, resilient, problem solving and caring community. Football is our means to achieving these ends.
Leading the way on offence for Niagara against Brantford were; Josh Gauslin who rushed for 50 yards; Liam Finley with 35 receiving yards; and, Jacob Iannizzi, who turned in his best performance of the season with 93 rushing yards and completing 10-33 passes.
Leading the way on defence were: Nathan Vander Meer with eight tackles, including three for losses; Adam Skeldon with nine tackles; and, Andrew Hurrle and Matthew Casucci with sacks.
Huh thanked his coaches for their efforts. They were Reid Robertson, Paul Fenech, Darrell Sleep, Roger Gemmell, Jonathan Lim, Nigel Baks, Bernie Tessier, Greg Matthews, Ron Hong, Jiwon Yoo, Eric Neilson and Glenn Neilson
The Niagara Spears travel football program will be staging a summer camp Aug. 10, 12, 16, 18, 23, 25 and 30 and Sept. 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the West Park field.
There will also be a football fundamentals camp on Aug 20 from 10 a.m. until noon for ages 4 to 11.
Players taking part should wear cleats and weather appropriate clothing and bring water. The camp is non-contact and no equipment is required
Registration is free. To register, visit www.niagaraspears.ca.
“It is to get everyone ready for high school,” Duguay said. “A lot of players still aren’t ready for high school or they haven’t done anything football related all summer. It is now down time for a lot of our guys because our season is over.”
Duguay encourages all interested players to come out.
“If you want to get better, every ounce of coaching that you can get will help you.”
The camp has been done before with great success.
“We started it during COVID and we liked it and all the players liked it,” he said. “We got through the fundamentals of footwork, tackling and a lot of drills.”
Duguay expects many of the Spears players from all levels will be attending catches and coaches from the Spears’ bantam, junior varsity and varsity teams will be helping out at the camp.