Wolfpack open with big win
Niagara’s newest high school made its debut on the football field Thursday at Eden.
It turned out to be a successful one as the West Niagara Wolfpack, wearing Carolina Blue uniforms, opened Niagara Region High School Athletic Association play with a 41-6 triumph over the Flyers.
“It is exciting and we like our unis (uniforms). They look pretty sweet,” West Niagara head coach Zach Silverthorne said. “We didn’t know what to expect now with junior and senior because rosters are smaller and the coaches are split in half but we had 14 starters returning. That makes a big difference and we knew we had lots of speed. Our defensive ends wreaked havoc all day and 41-6 with a ton of mistakes is OK.”
Because the new West Niagara high school and turf field is not ready yet, the team will play all its games this season on the road.
“It’s a little bit tough but we are going to go with it, we are going to be the road warriors and figure it out,” Silverthorne said.
Portables have been added near the Grimsby Secondary School field to accommodate the 1,500 students attending the facility while construction is completed. The team is unable to play games at the field but is able to practise.
“We are practising on a field with no lines and some of the kids had never played before but we did OK today.”
The team can’t wait to play on its new field next fall.
“Absolutely and principal (Matt) Miller is looking into getting a scoreboard like what Governor Simcoe has,” Silverthorne said. “It is going to look pretty sweet and Matt has helped us out a lot by finding the funding for 30 new helmets. It’s pricey.”
Murray Hildreth, a 12B student, was thrilled to suit up for the new high school.
“It’s great. It is like a new experience with new colours and a new identity,” the 17-year-old said. “It is going to be a dynasty. We want to do our best so the juniors can take over.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive end said the team has lofty goals for its inaugural season.
“We want to win as much as we can and we are going to go hard every game.”
Hildreth would have loved to finish his high school career on a new turf field but he’s not dwelling on it.
“The field doesn’t matter. It is the people you put out on it.”
He’s also not concerned about playing all the games on the road.
“It’s not much of a challenge. We will play hard just like we do at home.”
Silverthorne is glad to have Hildreth, who had two fumble recoveries and a sack Thursday, on his team.
“He is big and strong. He had a big day and hopefully we can build on that next week against Sir Winston.”
Hildreth only plays high school football but he gets plenty of strength and cardio work at home.
“I’m a farmer. I work around the farm and I lift weights a little.”
His days can be busy and sometimes they start as early as 1 a.m.
“We pick peaches, we pack them and then we sell them.”
Hildreth was happy with his team’s debut.
“I think we played hard and both the offence and defence played well.”
The Flyers were done in by a horrible start.
West Niagara scored on a 66-yard run on the first play of the game. Eden fumbled on its first play and the Wolfpack marched 36 yards for another major. Eden then fumbled the ensuring kickoff and allowed the Wolfpack to score again. Eden then fumbled the next kickoff but thankfully the Flyer defence was able to get a stop.
“It was a typical first game of the season and we never recovered from the slow start,” Eden head coach Jeff Webster said.
He knows the team has lots of work to do.
“We knew coming in that we had a lot of athletes and a lot of really athletic kids but the biggest issue we have is that a lot of those kids hadn’t played organized football until today. A lot of those kids got out there and the eyes got real big real quick and the speed got real fast in a hurry.
“We know we are playing the long game and we will see what happens by the end of the season in terms of getting guys up to speed and ready for hopefully a bit of a playoff run.”
Wolfpack 41 Flyers 6
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: West Niagara’s Murray Hildreth with a string defensive game.
For the West Niagara Wolfpack: Tyler Foster, 66-yard and nine-yard TD runs; Ryden Lapcevich, 13-yard TD pass from Xavier Zatilny; Zatilny, nine-yard TD run; two-point convert on run; Connor McDougall, 22-yard punt return TD; Braiden Boutcher, 10-yard and 29-yard field goals; David Crabtree, fumble recovery, sack; Kylen Azem-Simmons, fumble recovery; Tyler Soppet, fumble recovery; Efe Acikel, sack; Hildreth, sack and two fumble recoveries; Connor Foster, fumble recovery; Solomon Barning, interception.
For the Eden Flyers: Oweka Martin, 40-yard interception return for a major; Robbie Lane, interception; Tanner Loranger, fumble recovery; Justin Gliks, sack; Isaac Leder, convert block.
Game stats: First downs: Wolfpack 12, Flyers 1. Net offence: Wolfpack 222, Flyers -9. Turnovers: Wolfpack 4, Flyers 10. Penalties: Wolfpack 11 for 70 yards, Flyers 5 for 45 yards.