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La Salle, Holy Cross gain senior football victories

September 20, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

When you open the football season 2-0, there can be lots of things about which to be happy.

If you’re the La Salle Black Knights, for instance, you can be pleased with a defence that has allowed just one touchdown in each of those two games. You can draw satisfaction from reducing your penalties by more than half from the first game to the next.

If you’re coach Reuben Brunet, however, you take delight in something as simple as the makeup of the team.

“We’re young,” he said after the Knights defeated the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers 18-11 Friday afternoon. “We have 20 Grade 11 kids but we do have a good mix of veteran guys, too, and you know what? They’re nice kids.”

Being nice kids isn’t necessarily a harbinger for success in a physical sport such as football, but Brunet says in this case, it seems to be.

“They’re motivated to practise, they’re intelligent, they’re athletic and they’re hard working,” he said. “This is the easiest maintenance team we’ve ever had. We don’t have to worry about the discipline part. The kids come to practice.”

Beyond creating an atmosphere that is conducive to being productive, by doing something as collectively simple as coming to practice, this group of players is gaining significant technical benefit as well, Brunet said.

“We get more done because you’ve got the same guys every night,” he said. “Because you’ve got the same guys you can build on your drills every night.

“We’re coming together nicely. We’ve got a good, young, strong ball club and we’re teaching them how to play football. It’s been fun.”

It’s a good thing that practices are being well attended, because despite the successful start to the season, the Knights have some work to do. La Salle’s offence, for instance, sputtered badly when running back Reed Kekewich was removed the game in the third quarter after his second penalty for unnecessary roughness.

“That killed us,” Brunet said. “(Regi) didn’t have to respect the outside stuff because we didn’t have a big gunner back there. It really dictated the rest of the game. They had a good, stout defence, as well, which caused our offence to be two and out a lot.

“Our defence was very tired.”

La Salle scored the first time it had the football, just three minutes into the game. The next time the Knights had the ball, Kekewich carried for about 40 yards to give La Salle first down at the Regi two-yard line, but the Panthers defence held, allowing just a single point on a missed field-goal attempt.

Regi’s Nick Carriere and La Salle’s Isaac Heatherington traded 20-yard field goals in the second quarter, and the home team went into halftime leading 11-3.

LaSalle scored what could have been a back-breaking touchdown with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter, when a Courtney Norris pass was tipped by Peter McLay into the arms of teammate Nick Ackley, who took it about 25 yards for a touchdown that gave the Knights an 18-3 advantage.

As fatigue began to afflict the La Salle players, Regi took over the game in the fourth quarter. The Panthers scored their touchdown in the second minute on a drive that was extended by a pass-interference penalty deep in La Salle territory. Sean Mombourquette carried over for the score and then caught a pass from Norris for the two-point convert that lifted the Panthers within seven points of the lead.

Regi got the ball back twice in the final five minutes. Though on each possession they successfully converted third-down plays, the Panthers couldn’t sustain either drive for the tying score. La Salle’s Aidan Jackson-Kelso shone in the closing moments, making the third-down stop of the first possession and sacking the quarterback on second down of the second.

With the loss, Regi fell to 0-2.

In Friday’s other Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior contest, the Holy Cross Crusaders gained their first win of the year, 16-0 over Ernestown in the Eagles’ season-opening game at Odessa.

“The guys are making so many mistakes but they played hard, and they’re starting to come around,” Crusaders coach Tim Pendergast said.

Holy Cross got its touchdowns from Devon Christian in the first quarter and Jag Masters in the second. It was 14-0 at the break and Pendergast remarked on the pluck shown by the Eagles, who finished the game with just five healthy reserves on the sideline.

“I really respect Ernestown for sticking in the fight so long,” Pendergast said. “It was good to see the parking lot full, it was good to see the community out. It was good to see their guys play hard right to the end.”

Play resumes next Thursday when the Sydenham Golden Eagles, 1-0, visit Regi. Friday, La Salle will play at Holy Cross, 1-1, while Bayridge, 0-2, will play at Ernestown.

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