Thunder and Marauders remain unbeaten
The Blessed Trinity Thunder senior football team is off to a 2-0 start in Niagara Catholic Athletic Association play following a 41-0 victory over the visiting Saint Michael Mustangs Wednesday afternoon.
Blessed Trinity got its season off to a great start last week when it defeated the Saint Paul Patriots, an NCAA finalist last season, 8-7 by going for a two-point convert at the end of the game instead of playing for the tie.
“The nice part about that was that it wasn’t our call. It was the players’ call,” Thunder head coach Brad Hubbard said. “We wanted to go for one and they came out really confident and we trusted them. They were enthusiastic, there was no hesitation, they absolutely wanted to go for it and we obliged. Luckily, we converted.”
It may end up to be a season-defining play for the Thunder.
“That’s exactly what we want it to be,” Hubbard said. “We want to educate them so they can come off and give us useful information. We are able to use that to change formations and call specific plays that they think will work.”
Thunder running back Jayden Gurzi-MacDonald agrees it was a big moment.
“It was important,” he said. “We got blown out by them last year and we wanted to change that this year and get the win. Everyone wanted to go for it, the coaches believed in us and we made it happen.”
The 16-year-old, Grade 11 student is excited about his team’s chances this season.
“We want to go far as a team and see where the season takes us.”
He feels his team is different than last season.
“We have a lot of determination and motivation and everyone wants to go out there and get a win every time we touch the field,” he said. “It is developing along the way because everyone is realizing what a special group we are.”
Hubbard too is excited to see where the season goes for his squad.
“We had a little over 70 when we first started and we ended up with a good group of kids who are dedicated and that makes all the difference,” he said. “We have good character on the team and our 12Bs who came back (five in total) all wanted to come back because they anticipated us having a group that could compete.”
A key part of the Thunder being able to compete will be the play of Gurzi-MacDonald, who had nine carries for 156 yards against the Mustangs.
“Jayden is a special player and it’s not coaching or us,” Hubbard said. “We give him the ball, he does what he does and it is a bonus to have him. We are not putting him in any elaborate schemes and expecting him to make complicated reads. He is a talented kid with speed and vision and we have fun watching him. He is a highlight tape every time he gets the ball.”
This past summer, Gurzi-MacDonald played for the Varsity and Junior Varsity Niagara Spears and Team Ontario.
“It was an amazing summer. It was more experience and more reps and I developed a lot as a player. I had a lot of great coaches around me.”
The next step in his progression is straight forward.
“I have to keep working hard and stay humble,” the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder said.
His goal is to play post secondary football and he has already had interest from Laurier, Windsor, the University of Toronto and Simon Fraser.
“I am going to go wherever it feels like home and wherever feels the most comfortable.”
Saint Michael got its first real taste of senior ball after playing a Holy Cross team last week that, like the Mustangs, was playing senior after only fielding a junior squad last season.
“I think they now realize the physicality of the older kids and our younger kids realize how tough senior football can be,” Saint Michael head coach Brian Carter said. “They (BT) had a young team last year and you can see how they really improved. Our guys are going to have to step it another level.”
Playing an experienced team will help the Mustangs get to the next level.
“If you never experienced it, you don’t know want to expect and how to get better,” Carter said. “It is a good wakeup call for us and we are going to get back to work and do the best we can to get better each game.”
Thunder 41 Mustangs 7
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: BT’s Jayden Gurzi-MacDonald with nine carries for 156 yards, including a 53-yard TD run.
For the Blessed Trinity Thunder: Gurzi-MacDonald, TD; eight- and 24-yard TD passes from Johnny Breen to Carter Mantini; Chase Balice, TD runs of two and four yards; Breen, one-yard QB keeper for major; Ryan Broome, fumble recovery.
For the Saint Michael Mustangs: 35-yard TD pass from Luka Dermott to Nathan Carter; convert block by Matthew Elia; fumble recovery by Giampa Giovanni.
Game stats: First downs: Thunder 10, Mustangs 9. Net offensive yards: Thunder 323, Mustangs 161. Turnovers: Thunder 1, Mustangs 4. Penalties: Thunder 8 for 85 yards, Mustangs 10 for 58 yards.
MARAUDERS 48 FLYERS 0
The defending Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 1 champion A.N Myer Marauders improved to 2-0 Tuesday night with a 48-0 victory over the visiting Eden Flyers (0-2).
“It was an overall great team effort with all players participating in the game,” Myer head coach Dave Buchanan said.
Leading the way for Myer were: Evan Goforth with a 60-yard receiving TD and a 90-yard kick return major; Eugene Park with touchdowns runs of 20 and 15 yards: Mitch Casucci with a strong running day, including a rushing TD: Thomas Somerville with a 65-yard punt return for a score; Tyler Goforth with a 25 yard rushing major; Arden Martinez and Aiden Hunt who dominated on defence; and, Matt Newton and Cam Papineau who recorded interceptions.