Spears sputter in opener
A case of the opening night jitters got the better of the Niagara Varsity Spears.
The Spears dropped a 15-8 decision to the Durham Dolphins in their Ontario Summer Football League regular season opener Saturday night at Kiwanis Field.
The game was marred by botched plays, an overabundance of penalties and generally sloppy play, which Spears head coach Brian Duguay chalked up to early season nerves.
“To tell you the truth, no, I didn’t really expect that to happen,” Duguay said. “We were doing really well in practice and last week we went to Hamilton and did really well.
“I think it was just the home jitters, these guys coming out playing in front of their parents and family.”
Duguay said there is no reason to panic and the team will reconvene next week and get back to work.
“We’re just going to come back out Tuesday and practice,” he said. “It’s not what you did yesterday or today, it’s what we do tomorrow. That’s our main focus. We’re going to get some guys back. No excuses, we had some injuries, but we’ll be all right.
“(We were) not playing for the team on the front of the jersey, playing for the team on the back.”
Saint Francis’ Jackson Stewart got start at quarterback but was shaken up early on and replaced by Grimsby’s Xavier Zatylny, who hooked up with Sir Winston’s Quinn Johnston for the Spears only major.
“We have three QB’s (Saint Paul’s Matthew Murray is the other) that can play and today we played two,” Duguay said. “We’re going to see who’s going to be the best. As it goes down, the best is going to play, like any position.
“Our offence did all right. There was a couple of dropped balls, missed snaps, fumbles and we need to work on that.”
The Spears looked more cohesive on other side of the ball.
“Our defence played really well,” Duguay said.
Lineman Michael Kessy was particularly impressive.
“He’s a very strong player,” Duguay said. “He plays for DM and doesn’t really get the recognition because they didn’t do well but he will do well.
“He’s an athlete and he likes to learn.”
Kessy plays on both sides of the ball at Denis Morris and is also a member of their basketball team.
“Football is hard to play but basketball is harder to pick up,” the 17-year-old, Grade 12 student said. “When you learn how to play basketball, it gets easier, but football is pretty hard to play.”
Kessy left no doubt when asked which sport is his favourite.
“It’s on the field, 100 per cent. I love basketball but love football more,” he said. “I started basketball in Grade 8 and tried out for football in Grade 9 and fell in love with it.”
He is enjoying his first season with the Spears.
“It’s been awesome. I’ve never really played on a team this good. I love every part of it, from the coaching staff, to the players, everything.”
Dolphins 15 Spears 8
BPSN Player of the Game: Durham’s Nathan Walker with a pair of field goals and a convert.
For the Niagara Spears: Quinn Johnson TD; Team also recorded a safety.
For the Durham Dolphins: Elijah Arseneault TD; Nathan Walker 2 field goals, convert. Team also a safety.
Up next: Varsity Spears (0-1) are in Cambridge next Saturday.
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