Destiny Discover

GHAC win puts Knights in contention for fifth OFSAA gold medal

By Larry Moko

Elijah Barnes of the St. Thomas More Knights has some big shoes to fill – and it’s not just because at 6-foot-5 he’s the tallest player on the senior football team.

Barnes is the Knights starting quarterback this season, replacing Evan Hillock who guided More to three consecutive Bowl game championships plus a No. 1 national high school ranking during his career.

Hillock currently attends Western University where, as a member of the Mustangs, he was recently selected Rookie of the Year in the Ontario conference.

As for Barnes, he hasn’t disappointed. The lanky lefthander led More to an undefeated season capped by another Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championship. And, Wednesday, the Knights continued to roll with a 43-0 victory over the visiting Oakville Trafalgar Red Devils in the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference title game.

Up next for More is the Independent Bowl, Tuesday, Nov. 30, in Newmarket, against the Huron Heights Warriors.

“It was a great team effort,” said Barnes, who in junior ranks, called signals for two championship More squads. “Everyone was making plays. Everyone was doing their job.”

The Knights got on the scoreboard first when the Halton champions – winning that crown for the first time in 34 years – conceded a safety touch.

Anthony Venneri then added a pair of singles with booming punts before rushing for back-to-back nine and eight-yard touchdowns.

A two-yard touchdown run by Jack Stewart then increased More’s lead going into the intermission to 24-0.

In the second half, Stewart and Jeremy Lemieux each ran for a one-yard touchdown, Venneri connected for a 25-yard field goal and OT yielded another safety touch.

Venneri accounted for More’s other points on the day with four converts.

“Our running backs put in a tremendous amount of work,” Barnes said. “They are what we call ‘dogs’. They keep pounding the ball day in and day out.”

More head coach Claudio Silvestri was pleased with the Knights performance: “Our defence did it again and shut down a real high-end offence. We contained their receivers. We just played as a whole team against a championship team from Halton.”

Barnes threw sparingly but was effective when called upon. His passes showed both strength and touch. He was also able to make accurate tosses while on the run.

“I feel rolling out is one of my strengths,” Barnes said. “I’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the season. I’ve got to give a shout out to my coaches for that.”

The More coaches say Barnes works hard: “Elijah has come a long way,” offensive coordinator Rob Fuciarelli said. “All these kids have had a year off, so he was shaking some rust off at the start of the year.”

Silvestri describes Barnes as a “total leader” who continues to develop. “He’s got such a gun of an arm. We’re working on taking some of the muscle out of certain types of those passes. Elijah has been amazing.”

The Knights preserved a shutout on the Red Devils final drive when Venneri knocked down a pass attempt and, on the final play of the game, sacked the quarterback.

More has won 5 straight OFSAA Bowl Series Festival games.






Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham