Two Spears teams ousted from playoffs
The Niagara Spears varsity football team saw its Ontario Summer Football League season come to an end last Sunday in Ottawa with a 14-7 road loss to the Ottawa Myers Riders in semifinal action.
“I told the players I couldn’t be more proud of them. They never quit, stayed on course, fought to the end and stayed true to their game,” Niagara head coach Brian Duguay said.
Niagara faced lots of challenges this season, including losing four out of five starting offensive linemen to injuries and then losing two more to injuries.
“At one point, we had two defensive linemen and a linebacker playing on the offensive line. This group didn’t matter what position they were stepped up and stated they would do whatever was needed. You can’t coach that. That’s heart and team first,” he said. “This group was special and is going to be missed. All I can do is thank them and wish them all the best in their future endeavours be it in football or life.”
The game versus Ottawa was hard-fought and remained scoreless until there were only seconds left in the first half.
“Our defence and our offence were both playing well and I decided to go for it on a third down and two yards which unfortunately wasn’t successful,” Duguay said. “Then Ottawa capitalized on a penalty to continue a drive which lead to another TD. I informed the players they were playing great, to continue what they were doing in the second half as this score was my fault for going for it on third down.”
Ottawa made it 14-0 in the middle of the third quarter before the Spears scored on a 15-yard pass from Jackson Stewart to Jack Wilson. The Spears tried an onside kick which they recovered but a penalty forced the Spears to re-kick which Ottawa recovered. The defensive battle continue until the end of the game.
Top offensive performers for Niagara were: Jayden Gurzi-MacDonald with 13 carries for 80 yards; Quinn Johnston with five receptions for 62 yards; Wilson with five receptions for 45 yards and a TD; and, Jackson Stewart with 11-19 passing for 120 yards and a TD pass, and four carries for 44 yards.
Leading the way for Niagara on defence were: Michael Kessy with four solo tackles, two assisted tackles and a tackle for a loss; Jacob Ranger with four solo tackles and two assisted tackles; and, Cole Stewart with two solo tackles and three assisted tackles.
The Spears will host their annual banquet Aug. 7.
DOLPHINS 34 BANTAM SPEARS 6
The Niagara Spears bantam football team fell 34-6 on the road to the Durham Dolphins in OSFL semifinal action.
Niagara’s lone touchdown came on a 50-yard pass to Hudson Grant from Lox Raducanu and Owen Saunders recorded an interception on defence.
“The outcome of the game was the symptom that plagued the team all year which was the inability to sustain consistent good play for four quarters offensively, defensively, and on special teams,” Niagara head coach Austin Huh said.
The contest was a tight affair until the Spears threw an interception late in the second quarter as they were marching down the field threatening to score. Immediately after the turnover, Durham was able to score on an 80-yard pass. Niagara had a difficult time containing Durham’s dynamic quarterback and the Spears struggled offensively after Josh Gaulsin sustained an injury that took him out of the game.
“Despite the disappointing outcome of the game, the bantam team should keep their heads up high as they have battle through unideal circumstances throughout the course of the season and persevered despite low roster numbers,” Huh said. “Congratulations to the players, coaches, families and Spears organization for making this a memorable season.”