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Sydenham overwhelms La Salle in senior AA football final

November 2, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Reuben Brunet said he didn’t have much to say.

“Sydenham deserves all the (attention),” said the coach of the La Salle Black Knights. “It’s their day.”

Indeed it was.

Sydenham Golden Eagles played nearly error-free football, and capitalized on almost every opportunity Saturday, to defeat La Salle 47-0 in the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior AA championship game at Richardson Stadium.

The victory gave Sydenham the Rob Druce Memorial trophy and puts the Eagles into the regional playoffs, which will begin Friday afternoon when the Eagles host the Brockville Red Rams, the Leeds-Grenville champions, at McLellan Field.

Led by Dylan Fisher, who had one of the finest performances ever by a quarterback in a county final, and a defence that allowed La Salle—which scored 126 points in five regular-season games—just 94 yards through three quarters, the Eagles were in control from the opening kickoff.

There was not an aspect of the game where Sydenham didn’t outperform its opponent.

“We knew if we played well we would have a good game,” Sydenham coach Mike Love said. “We didn’t know what the score would be, but we asked them to play as well as you can play and they … played as good a game as I’ve seen them play all year long, to a man. Every kid hit the field and did their job so well. We’re unbelievably proud of them.

“I know they were frustrated a little bit with their Bubba Bowl night. We won the game (28-21 over La Salle) but we didn’t execute very well that night. I think they were looking to show what they were capable of, and they certainly did.”

On a cold, gray day, with the wind out of the northeast, Sydenham marched smartly with its first possession, covering 76 yards in nine plays in a drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Fisher to Mike Bashall. Fisher completed five of six passes in the drive, to four different receivers.

Then, on La Salle’s first play from scrimmage, the Knights fumbled on an option play and Sydenham recovered. The La Salle defence forced the Eagles to punt, but two plays into the Knights’ subsequent possession, quarterback Mitch Dowd was intercepted by Thomas Withey.

This time, Sydenham made the Knights pay, as Brodie Latimer scored on a one-yard run to give the undefeated Eagles a 14-0 lead.

Just 46 seconds remained in the first quarter and La Salle, playing with the wind at its back, had run just three offensive plays.

“The first quarter was pretty important for us,” Love said. “We managed to kill a lot of that time against the wind with a couple of nice offensive drives. (La Salle) had some bad luck. They were trying some stuff, I think, to make something big happen early, give them a bit of lift or momentum, and unfortunately it kind of backfired for them. We were the beneficiaries of it.”

Fisher kept it up in the second quarter. He ended the first half with 12 completions from 17 attempts, 191 yards passing and three touchdowns, the other two to Bashall, for 41 yards, and Kurt MacComish, for six, as Sydenham took a 30-0 lead into halftime.

By the end of the game, Fisher was 18-for-25 for 280 yards, with four touchdowns—the last a 32-yard play with Withey in the third quarter—and no interceptions. He won the Wayne Norris Memorial trophy as the game’s most valuable player.

“He plays the same game almost every game,” Love said. “He puts the ball where it needs to be. He rarely makes a mistake … the kids just have a lot of confidence in him. They know that he’s going to do what he needs to do; we had some kids catching the ball, and the offensive line was giving him lots of time. It really came together.”

Fisher said the height of receivers Sam Moyse and MacComish created some mismatches with the La Salle secondary that he was able to exploit. The receivers who aren’t especially tall, he said, are quick.

“There was a lot of hard work in practice,” he said. “We kept focusing on this game, not worrying about an undefeated season or all the talk around that, just (thinking) about winning a football game.”

He noted the impact of the two first-quarter turnovers.

“It always helps when you have turnovers going your way,” he said. “It really gets the offence ready to go and really excited.”

In all, La Salle turned the ball over six times; those mistakes led to three Sydenham touchdowns and a field goal. Michael Puszkar had two interceptions in the fourth quarter for Sydenham, highlights of a defensive effort that was led throughout by middle linebacker Mitch Herron.

“He’s a great kid,” Love said. “He seemed to find those little seams to pursue those outside runs. I wouldn’t doubt he was in on 12 or 15 tackles. He’s a smart kid; a solid, solid player. He’s been a rock in there in the middle.”

After giving up 50 points in its first three games, Sydenham hasn’t given up a point in its last 11 quarters of football.

“With the mistakes they were making, we got on the ball and just didn’t give them a whole lot of hope early in the game,” Love said, “and obviously our offence put a bunch of points up in the first half. It’s easy to play ball when it’s 30-0.”

Herron said it was a case of everything coming together for the Eagles.

“At the beginning of the game, the fumble (recovery) and the interception—they were a big part of the turnaround and motivated everybody,” he said. “As soon as Fisher started throwing the ball and making his passes, everything started coming together. It was mint.”

The magnitude of the score was something Herron said he didn’t expect.

“We felt that we made a couple of mistakes (when the teams met in the Bubba Bowl) and thought we could make things a little bit better,” he said, “(but) we thought it was going to be close.

“La Salle played hard. They had a couple of times where they made mistakes and we picked up on that and turned it around. The first couple of (turnovers) was a momentum change. That’s what made the game.”

Bashall was the top receiver, with seven catches for 104 yards. He also kicked five converts, an 11-yard field goal and three singles, two on kickoffs and the other on a 67-yard punt. Latimer was the game’s top rusher, with 18 carries for 109 yards.

La Salle’s top threat was Tim Wight, who also carried the ball 18 times, for 99 yards. Dowd completed five of 16 passes for 61 yards, as the Knights lost in the AA final for the second year in a row.

In Saturday’s junior AA championship game, La Salle scored 20 points in a span of eight minutes in the middle of the second half to claim a 27-7 win over Sydenham and the Berk Brean Memorial trophy.

The teams traded monstrous drives on their respective first possessions—La Salle 16 plays, 92 yards in nine and a half minutes (touchdown by Dalin Price on a 14-yard run); Sydenham 56 yards in 14 plays in seven and a half minutes (TD by Colin Bowman on a six-yard run). By the time 18 minutes had been played in the game, each team had the ball once and the score was 7-7.

The go-ahead score was a 23-yard field goal by Max Serruya in the fourth minute of the second half. Then came Price’s second touchdown, on a seven-yard run four minutes later, and a safety on Sydenham’s next possession. When La Salle got the ball back, Reegan Comeau scored his team’s final touchdown in an 18-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Comeau, who carried the football 18 times for 147 yards, was named winner of the Wayne Norris Memorial trophy as the game’s most valuable player.

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One Comment
  1. should be a walk in the park for the Eagles over Brockville, most of their team is comprised of juniors as they did not have enough seniors to field a team this year. A lot of grade 9 and grade 10 players. They even have a few that have to play both offence and defensive positions. But they do have a lot of heart.

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