Spears conclude regular season on winning note
Raydon Gouthro has made the most of his one travel football season.
The 18-year-old Denis Morris has been arguably the Niagara Spears varsity football team’s best defensive player in a regular season which ended Saturday night at home with a 14-7 victory over the Oakville Titans in Ontario Summer Football League play.
“He has been outstanding on the field. He has learned the defence from day one in his first year,” Spears defensive coordinator Ron Traub said of the cornerback. “He got hurt after the first game but I made him one of the captains and he has been at every practice and every game. When he came back, he has been lights out. He has only been beat once for a touchdown.”
Traub feels there are a number of attributes which make Gouthro a good player.
“It is his commitment to the team and the other players. He is fast, he is smart and he doesn’t take any time or plays off. He never wants to come off.”
Gouthro was excited to join the Spears.
“It is my last year and I heard they were taking 10 04s (2004 birthdates). I wanted to play with all my friends, come out, showcase what I had and help this team win games.”
He is happy with how the season has gone.
“Throughout all the months and practices, everyone has been playing just as well as me. I took it upon myself to be a leader of the DBs and I take pride in it.”
He admits to kicking himself for not joining the Spears sooner.
“One hundred per cent,” he said. “Seeing what I can do out here now, I feel like I would have been a lot better if I had played last year with the better coaching and more practising.”
Gouthro worked full-time in his first year out of high school and is thinking about working one more year and then heading to college. He is also hoping to play in the Canadian Junior Football League.
“I haven’t talked to anybody yet but I am definitely looking to take it to the next step.”
Gouthro was happy to see the Spears win their second game of the season and wasn’t surprised by the result.
“We trust each other. We trust others to do their job and if there is something that is not going our way we talk about it and make sure it gets done properly.”
Spears head coach Brian Duguay was thrilled with his team’s nice win against a good team.
“We needed that win. We have been through a lot this year,” he said. “We started with 70 guys and today we had 40.”
The Spears lost four starters on the offensive line in the first game of the season and in the second game Niagara lost its backup centre.
“Our starting centre is now playing left tackle and anyone who knows anything about football knows that that is a hard thing to do. That is why we have been having a hard time this year,” he said. “I don’t take anything away from the kids. They have tried and we had a good all-around game today.”
Duguay is not sure who the team will play in the playoffs.
“If we would have lost today, we would have played in Ottawa and that was a big motivation for these guys because no one wants to do a six-hour bus trip.
“I am happy for them because these guys stuck it out. As you can see, we have a lot of crutches everywhere on the sidelines and we have a lot of injuries. I am so proud.”
Saturday’s matchup was the last home game of the season for the Spears and the squad recognized their graduating seniors at the end of the game. Honoured were Elijah Pappin, Garrett Hum, Ty Dawn, Rahiem McLean, Janal Williams and Gouthro.
JV SPEARS 49 OAKVILLE 12
The Niagara Spears junior varsity team thumped the visiting Oakville Titans 49-12 Saturday afternoon to record its third win of the OSFL regular season.
Leading the way for Niagara were: Austin MacRae with three TD passes, 129 passing yards and two rushing majors; rushing majors by Henry Black (one yard) and Braiden Genest (nine yards); and, TD receptions by Joe Martinelli (29 yards), Kieran McDonald (41 yards) and Michael Bielich (one yard).
Spears 14 Titans 7
BPSN Player of the Game: Niagara’s Ethan Crick with a touchdown catch and a fumble recovery.
For the Niagara Spears: Crick, one-yard TD catch from Quinn Johnston; Jackson Stewart, 27-yard TD pass to Jack Wilson; Brodie Bevacqua,, two converts; Elijah Pappin, three receptions for 33 yards and seven rushes for 76 yards; Justin Savoie, 14 rushes for 43 yards, Jacob Ranger, three solo tackles, one assisted tackle and an interception; Michael Kessy, one solo tackle, two assisted tackle, one tackle for a loss and a solo sack; Bayan Afnan, two solo tackles and two solo sacks; Jamal Williams, fumble recovery; Gaven Clark, interception; Ryan Broome, fumble recovery.
For the Oakville Titans: Ryan Hughes, 18-yard TD run; Demir Mucevic, interception; Averie McWilliam, sack and punt block; Vincent Todorov, sack; Sean Doherty, sack; Tomi Okelana, fumble recovery.
Game stats: First downs: Niagara 8, Oakville 8. Net offence: Niagara 183, Oakville 143. Turnovers: Niagara 4, Oakville 5. Penalties: Niagara 13 for 75 yards, Oakville 18 for 190 yards.
Up next: Niagara enters bye week and then begins playoffs.