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David Wallace picking up his new game quickly

October 17, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

He may be relatively new to the game—perhaps even too new to appreciate fully the role he just played in winning one—but David Wallace demonstrated Thursday one of football’s niceties in the high school senior match at Daniel Field.

With his team in the process of blowing its second 17-point lead of the afternoon, and giving signs that it may be falling apart at the seams, the Holy Cross Crusaders gave Wallace the football late in the fourth quarter.

Carrying the ball for virtually all of a 60-yard drive that landed his team inside the Frontenac Falcons’ 10-yard line, Wallace helped to kill time off the clock, reversed field position and set the Crusaders up for a field goal that would take their lead from a delicate six points to more secure nine.

That Wallace got to kick that field goal himself seemed somehow fitting, and it proved to be vital as well, as Frontenac came back to score once more. Thanks to that kick, however, when the Falcons scored a touchdown on the last play of the game it wasn’t enough to defeat the Crusaders, who walked off the field 27-25 winners.

It’s a scenario that wouldn’t have happened a year ago, and it was one Wallace may not even have been around to watch the season before that. Football, you see, simply wasn’t Wallace’s pastime of choice.

“David is a soccer, rugby player who decided to come out and kick last year,” Crusaders coach Tim Pendergast said. “He didn’t want to play (a position). The rugby coach said he was the best rugby player on the team, and the best athlete in the school. One of our coaches is his neighbour and talked him into playing.

“The first time he carried the ball, I thought, ‘God, he is good.’”

Pendergast said there’s no question Wallace raised the level of his performance on that crucial drive in the fourth quarter, the first time Holy Cross had moved the ball with any distinction since the first half.

“He stepped it up,” the coach said. “He runs through contact, he doesn’t shy away from it, and he’s a hard load to bring down.

“He’s new to the game but he’s got tremendous potential and talent.”

Wallace’s play was not only helpful Thursday but necessary for a Crusaders team that was missing its starting tailback. Devon Christian left the team’s previous game, against Regi, with an ankle injury.

“With Devon playing tailback and David at fullback, it’s hard to give a fullback the ball,” Pendergast said. “We put in a set where we have an ace back, to give Devon a rest and gave David a chance to carry the ball.

“That’s what (we did) at the end of the game and he kind of gutted it out.”

Frontenac struggled mightily in the early part of the ball game. Holy Cross scored the first two times it had the ball and then on consecutive series Falcons quarterback Rob Magee threw an interception. The second, by Justus Masucol, was returned to the Frontenac one-yard line, and it begat a touchdown just one play later.

The Falcons then scored on a drive highlighted by a 40-yard reception by Connor O’Neil, when Magee found Carter Matheson on the goal line with an 18-yard pass. Matheson made a superb play to make the catch in tight coverage.

Holy Cross got a boost going into the break when Jeremy Pendergast made a splendid catch in the end zone of a 15-yard pass from quarterback Colin Walker. Coming with just 24.6 seconds on the clock, it was Pendergast’s second TD of the game.

Instead of sending the Falcons into a tailspin, however, it proved to be something of a rallying point, as Frontenac came out of the intermission to play its best football of the day.

“We finally played with a bit of heart,” Falcons coach Mike Doyle said. “We were flat in the first half. Right after the first touchdown I thought our defence really sold themselves short. The effort level kind of dipped a little bit. It felt like the kids weren’t believing that they could be in the game.

“At halftime they seemed to respond. We didn’t get all upset with them. We just said if there’s one thing at our school that we want to see out of you, it’s some passion. The defence came out in the second half and they really played with passion. Robert Magee played a lot better in the second half, and we made it a football game.”

Two other things were in the Falcons’ quiver in the second half: luck (Frontenac recovered two Holy Cross fumbles with the score 24-14 but managed just a single and a field goal from the subsequent possessions), and Dustin Brogaard.

Brogaard was playing his first game since badly injuring a knee last season—in a game at Holy Cross, coincidentally—and after a few carries in the first half, he ran and blocked with authority in the second.

“A kid coming back from injury is going to have some confidence issues,” Doyle said. “As he got hit a few times his confidence started to come back.

“We’re glad to have Dustin back. He gives us a bit more of a speed threat.”

Brogaard scored his team’s second touchdown, late in the third quarter.

“We were up but we knew they were going to come back,” Pendergast said. “They clamped down on our run game and I got maybe a little conservative (with play calling) with the lead.

“They have too many offensive weapons to stay off the scoreboard. They made it interesting.”

Emmanuel Onwuemeodoss scored the Crusaders’ other touchdown, on a one-yard run. Wallace added three converts and a 23-yard first-quarter field goal.

Frontenac got a touchdown on the final play of the game, on a 20-yard pass from Magee to Brendan Steele. Braeden North converted all three touchdowns, kicked a single on a missed field goal and a 32-yard field goal that put his team as close as 24-18 early in the fourth quarter.

The win leaves Holy Cross with a 3-2 record going into its last game of the year, next Friday against Ernestown. It also assured the Crusaders of home field for a AAA semifinal game. Frontenac slips to 1-3 and falls a game behind Ernestown, 2-2, in the quest for third place among the association’s triple-A teams.

In Thursday’s other Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior match, the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers improved to 4-1 with a 26-0 victory over the winless Napanee Golden Hawks.

Playing in Napanee, Regi clinched first place among AAA teams with touchdowns from Tyrrell Downer, Jake McFadden and Connor Tobin. Nick Carriere kicked three converts and a field goal and he and Jordan Pringle each kicked a single.

In Friday’s only game, La Salle, 3-1, visits the Bayridge Blazers, 2-2, at 2 o’clock on O’Connor Field.

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