As the Thomson Titans ran for their first touchdown early in the game, it was clear Malvern was overmatched.
Missing their three best players, the Black Knights lost 37-0 to David & Mary Thomson on Friday at Birchmount Stadium.
Without their starting slotback, running back, and quarterback, Malvern hardly held possession, succumbing to quick turnovers. When it was on offence, it could barely even advance the ball outside of its own end.
On one snap, the ball sailed over the quarterback’s head.
“We were missing some pretty key bodies, and we had to put some guys at new positions, to do some things they weren’t completely familiar with,” said Rob Salvatore, a Black Knights coach. “That was pretty tough for a lot of guys.”
Malvern’s struggles could continue as its quarterback should miss at least a few more games after breaking a bone in his foot last week.
Some help will return soon though, as its slotback and running back are expected to play in the team’s next contest.
Joseph Willard, who secured three touchdowns for the Titans in the first half, including a nearly 50-yard run into the end zone, was the most dominant player on the field. He led Thomson to a 30-0 lead at the half.
The Black Knights couldn’t do anything to stop the grade 11 student, who hopes to one day play college ball in the United States.
“I thought he did a really good job,” Salvatore said. “He ran the ball hard, he had some good speed, but he was also very patient and waited for plays to develop. He was a tough guy to play.”
Jacob Barghout, a coach at Thomson, said Willard’s outstanding play wasn’t an anomaly.
“Joey Willard is having a great season this year,” Barghout said. “He plays offence, he plays defense. He’s always there in practice, always working hard. He’s obviously a big part of our offence and defense and special teams.
“He’s a helluva football player.”
With Willard resting on the bench in the second half, scoring slowed down as Thomson gave some of its back-ups an opportunity to play.
A last minute effort nearly put the Black Knights on the scoreboard, but they were stopped just short of Thomson’s end zone.
Due to a lack of interest last year, Malvern decided to run a varsity program this season rather than a separate junior and senior team. The result is many players are fighting it out on the field against older, more experienced opponents.
That is one reason why Salvatore said his players still took something positive out of their resounding loss.
“A lot of these guys are just getting their first taste of football,” he said. “Not having a junior program, that was our only option. And I think every week they learn from something that happens in a game.
“Sometimes these tough losses are the games that you learn the most. “