Danforth Redhawks coach Iain McLeod couldn’t help but laugh after the conclusion of his high school’s first football game in 22 years.
In a final score resembling more of a close hockey game than a gridiron battle, the Hawks defeated the Lester B. Pearson Bengals 1-0 to capture their first victory as both squads competed in their season openers.
“You take those when you can get them,” McLeod said, laughing after the game.
Both schools are competing out of the Toronto board’s 10-team Tier Two Varsity Development League.
Danforth Collegiate and Lester B. Pearson, who has not had a team in 18 years, are two of the five new squads participating this season.
The first quarter saw the game’s only point as Bengals punt-returner Braxton Wignall allowed the ball to bounce in front of him in the end zone before grabbing it, giving a hoard of Hawks defenders ample time to reach and tackle him to score the single.
Just before the two minute warning of the second quarter, the Hawks decided to punt again after another unsuccessful drive.
Bengals running back Anthony Burke let the ball slip through his fingers, picked it up and ran for the touchdown. However, his teammate, Kasun Nawarajah got called for an illegal block, nullifying the score.
“Sometimes they don’t remember and they want to do what they can,” Bengals coach James Reznicki said.
“They get overzealous and it’s something we have to work on practice more.”
After a scoreless third, Bengals quarterback Sharma Mahendraringam threw an interception that was caught by Nicholas Waye late in the fourth, giving the Hawks the ball inside Lester B. Pearson’s 30-yard line.
However, just after the final two minute warning, Hawks running back Christopher Spence was stripped of the ball by Nawarajah, who could only reach midfield before being tackled.
On the last play of the game, Burke tried to make something happen, running from one side of the field to the other until the Hawks defence stopped him.
Despite some nerves and a lack of experience, McLeod was mostly pleased with his team’s performance.
“It was good to get this first game behind them,” he said. “Now, they can actually appreciate what the game situation is,” he said.
“It should make our practices better, increase our tempo.”
Danforth will next take on David and Mary Thomson CI next Tuesday while Lester B. Pearson will travel to Westview Centennial Secondary School a day later.