Not wind, rain or mud could stop the Leaside Lancers senior football squad from beating the North Toronto Norsemen 35-6 in the TDSSAA south region quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
And the frigid temperature didn’t hold back the Lancers’ offence, either.
“We knew it was going to be sloppy today and we knew it was going to be important if we wanted to run the ball effectively,” says Jim Georgiadis, Leaside’s head coach.
The Lancers managed to establish their dominant running game early. On the first drive of the game, the Lancers moved the ball down the field with relative ease.
“We wanted to protect the football and control the play,” he says. “We figured if we could win the field position battle and cut down on turnovers we would come out victorious.”
Quarterback Mike Kanopoulos completed a 10 yard pass to wide-receiver Stephen Edwards that helped set up his 10 yard scamper for the game’s first touchdown.
In the second quarter, Leaside’s defence contributed with a touchdown as defensive standout Connor Ryan picked off an errant Tom Knee pass for the 14-0 lead.
The real dagger came when Kanopoulos called his own number 60 yards from the end zone. He managed to elude several Norseman defenders to increase Leaside’s lead to 21-0.
“It was the weather, unfortunately,” says Shawn Hood, Norseman head coach. “We worked all week long and really wanted to come out passing.
When the wind and rain started blowing just before the game it made it really difficult for us to get the ball in the air.”
Although the conditions were adverse, the Norsemen tried to make adjustments throughout the game, but to no avail.
“We were having a tough time running up the middle,” Hood says. “They have some big guys on the defensive line and we tried to go with some misdirection and it started to work near the end of the game.
“The mud made it really hard to run the sweeps and it really limited our the type of offence we like to run.”
Ryan hits again
Ryan’s second six points of the game came on the opening play of the second half when he returned the kick 80 yards for the Lancers fourth touchdown.
In the final two minutes of the game, North Toronto wide-receiver Emmanuel Athanassakos hauled in a Knee pass from 35 yards out for the game’s final six points.
Georgiadis gave credit to his offensive line for creating the running opportunities. Twice during the game their protection allowed Kanopoulos to gain 147 yards on a pair of plays.
“I thought we blocked very, very well which allowed us to do the things offensively we wanted to do today,” he says.
Next week the Lancers will prepare to play the East York Goliaths in the South Regional semi-final.
“They are a tough team and our rival team,” he says. “It is always a game with a lot of tradition and even though we got the better of them this year, we know they will be ready for us this time around.”