It was a battle of defence and special teams Thursday afternoon as the Northern Red Knights defeated the Leaside Lancers 12-3 in TDSSAA high school football action.
But the low score shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
While Leaside (0-1) was without starting quarterback Matthew Georgiadis, while Northern’s starting signal caller Treshaun Tran was playing in his first real game of tackle football with a pretty simple game plan.
“I told my quarterback ‘just don’t lose the game for us,'” said Northern head coach Dan Domenico. “Our defence is playing well, our special teams is too. Just don’t throw a stupid pick to cost us the game.”
Leaside jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off the leg of Martin Mejia with 8:46 remaining in the first half.
But the lead didn’t last long.
Following the Leaside opening score, Logan Radcliffe went to work for the Red Knights (1-0). First, he returned a kickoff more than 65 yards deep into the Lancer’s territory, but after a Leaside penalty, he tried it again.
This time the ball bounced past the lengthy cornerback into the end zone, where he scooped it up, followed his blockers and took the pigskin all the way back for a 115-yard kickoff return.
Northern’s defence picks up slack
In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Northern defensive captain Jerrom Ogen Rwot picked off Lancers’ quarterback Gabriel Anthony inside the Leaside 20-yard line.
With excellent starting field position, Tran found wide receiver Matthew Uriah in the end zone on third down for his first-ever touchdown pass with 2:28 remaining to put the Red Knights safely ahead 12-3.
While his team didn’t get the victory, Leaside head coach James Georgiadis was pleased with the output against a strong Northern squad.
“I thought we held our own pretty well there,” said Georgiadis standing at midfield following his team’s defeat. “I thought the defence played outstanding and I thought our quarterback, who was our backup, Gabriel Anthony, managed the game very very well and gave us an opportunity to win the game.”
Northern was without their top two running backs and Leaside defensive ends Jack Carlton and Luc Rivet shut down the Red Knights’ running game.
“I thought we did a good job containing them (in the run game) and keeping them to the middle,” said Georgiadis. “(Carlton and Rivet) ensured that the linebackers were able to come in and support the run.”
With Anthony in at quarterback for last year’s starter Georgiadis, Lancers’ running back, linebacker, and kick returner Cooper Diemer was relied upon for a bulk of the offence.
“Cooper is one of the guys we’re going to lean on this year to play multiple positions,” said coach Georgiadis. “There’s times where he doesn’t even come off the field.”
Despite the win, Domenico wasn’t satisfied with edging out a sloppy victory and expects improvement from his players.
“We’ve got to find some stability, we just haven’t had the same people in there all the time because we’re trying to find a combination that works,” said Domenico.
The Red Knights continue their season on the road next Friday against Lawrence Park, while the Lancers will get a bye next week and play Sir Wilfrid Laurier Thursday, Oct. 15th at home.