Two interception returns by Adam Miller gave Lawrence Park’s senior football team a historic 22-18 victory over the Northern Red Knights in the Toronto high school season opener for both clubs on Friday afternoon.
It was the first time the Panthers have beaten the Red Knights in 31 years.
Coach Mark Harrison made no attempt to hide his excitement after the game and knows just how much the result means for his school’s football program.
“That’s the first time since 1982 that our seniors have beaten Northern’s seniors,” Harrison said. “I was still in high school and I’m a 47-year-old man, so it’s unbelievable.”
With Northern up 2-0, Panthers’ Adam Miller picked off a pass and ran it 80 yards the other way for a touchdown that sent the visitors into the dressing room up 6-2.
Both teams were then able to score a touchdown in the third quarter that brought the score to 13-9 for Lawrence Park.
But Miller put the game out of reach with his second pick-six of the afternoon, this time returning the interception approximately 60 yards for the touchdown.
And despite a late touchdown for Northern as well as a safety, the deficit was simply too much for the Red Knights to overcome.
Harrison was quick to praise Miller’s performance after the game, but also acknowledged that it was the entire roster that earned the win.
“We felt we had some great talent, some great individual playmakers, but they played as a team. The kid, Adam Miller, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns was unbelievable.”
The volunteer coach also admits he was scared by Northern’s late push in the fourth quarter and was left a little puzzled by some of the decisions made by the Red Knights in the game’s final minutes.
“Cliches aside, what a scary way to win in a way. We went up, they went up, we came back, and then to see them have the ball down there.
“I’m not sure why they ran the ball on those last few plays down at our end because I think they were starting to beat us with the pass.”
But Harrison was happy with the way a specific tactic worked to their advantage in order to shut down Northern in the fourth quarter.
“A week ago or so, we came up with the idea of running the ‘hurry up, no huddle’ against them and we thought it would be a good change of pace and it caught them off guard. It’s nice when your plans work.”
For Harrison, the win is one the greatest in his career, as he even compares it to winning a championship seven years ago.
“In 2005, we had a Tier II City Championship with 23 guys so it was a big deal. I’d certainly say today is in my top three.”
Whether or not a championship is in store for Lawrence Park this season remains to be seen, but the Panthers’ coach believes that Tuesday afternoon’s win has already given his team a strong shot at this year’s playoffs.
“This win puts us in the driver’s seat because four teams out of five in our conference make the playoffs. You’ve got to beat one of them and we’ve beat one. Now we have the opportunity to go out and play some more good games and see what happens.”