By Larry Moko
It didn’t take the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals long to prove they were serious about getting back on track.
The Cardinals struck for a 76-yard touchdown on their opening play from scrimmage en route to a 56-0 victory over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior high school football action Friday.
That result, at Brebeuf, came a week after what Newman coach Lino Battilana described as a “totally disappointing” 40-5 loss on home field to the five-time defending champion St. Thomas More Knights.
The Cardinals, Knights and Bishop Tonnos Titans all currently have 4-1 records atop the standings heading into the final week of the regular schedule.
“We executed what we practised all week,” Newman’s running back/linebacker Noah Clarke said after the Brebeuf contest. “We didn’t have a good showing last week. I know this was important to the coach for us to have a good game and carry the energy throughout the rest of the season … We did what we were supposed to do.”
The visitors’ scored all the points they needed on the first snap when quarterback Lucas Barresi connected on a long pass-and-run play with slotback Shane Wismer.
Clarke then rushed for two touchdowns. First, he took a pitchout, cut back across the field, and raced 23 yards into the end zone. That was followed by a one-yard TD plunge.
The hard-running veteran also chipped in with an interception as Newman built a 31-0 halftime lead.
“Noah is certainly one of our most talented players,” Battilana said. “He does a lot of talking with his legs, right? And his effort. He works hard.”
Two plays after Newman linebacker Mark Sbrissa recovered a fumble, Clarke capitalized by shaking off tacklers and scoring his first major.
Newman’s offence continued to click just 17 seconds before the half on an eight-yard touchdown strike from Barresi to Nolan Methot. It was set up by Jordan Keith’s interception.
In the second half, the opening kickoff pinned Brebeuf near its own goal line. And just two plays later, Sebastian Ochoa-Aispura recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Newman’s other TDs were scored by Alex DiFrancesco – a two-yard carry – and Adams Yusuph – a 20-yard run.
Throughout the afternoon kicker Leo Kantartzis contributed field goals of 16 and 25 yards along with six converts. In addition there was a two-point conversion reception by Wismer.
With the loss, fifth-place Brebeuf’s record slipped to 2-5.
“They’re fantastic athletes over there,” Brebeuf coach Phil Iannone said of Newman.
Iannone said he hopes a two-week layoff before playoffs gives Brebeuf a chance to regroup.
The Newman coach said the focus against Brebeuf was to make less mistakes and they did that successfully.
“Coming off last week’s loss (when Newman turned the ball over five times) the kids responded well,” Battilana said. “We did a lot of good things and we fixed the turnovers.”
St. Thomas More remained tied for top spot with its 45-7 victory over the St. Mary Crusaders.