Titans defeat Knights in football opener

Titans defeat Knights in football opener
Posted on 09/18/2023
BT football player

By Larry Moko

The St. Thomas More Knights and the Bishop Tonnos Titans are senior high school football teams with a lot in common.

Both neighbouring schools recently captured a Hamilton-Wentwoth Catholic league championship (Tonnos last season and More in 2021). Similarly, too, each squad travelled to the United States earlier this month to play an exhibition game against an American opponent (to Ohio for Tonnos and Michigan for More).

And to cap their weekend activities south of the border, the Knights and Titans were at the same East Lansing, football stadium watching the Michigan State Spartans take on the University of Richmond Spiders.

“We met at will-call to get our tickets,” More coach Claudio Silvestri said.

Returning home for the HWCAA season opener on Friday, the visiting Titans scored 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points to edge the Knights 24-10 in an evenly-played contest.

“I thought our team showed resilience,” Titans running back and safety Elliot Blake said. “We were tied 14-14 at the half and we weren’t playing great. But we managed to come back and get the ‘W’. That’s all that matters.”

Blake scored the final touchdown on a three-yard run after he recovered a fumble in More territory on the Knights previous possession.

“Elliot has been playing at another level,” Tonnos coach Anthony Tassone said. “Down in Ohio he rushed for over 125 yards and had about 150 yards on kick returns. He caught a kid on the 2-yard line after chasing him down for 70 yards and had him fumble the ball through the end zone. Elliot also had two touchdowns and an interception.”

Against More, Tonnos took a 17-14 lead on a 34-yard field goal with nine minutes remaining by Francesco Romano.

The Titans then struck for a 26-yard pass play from quarterback Ryan Begadon to Kaleb Horvat-Rankin to set up Blake’s TD carry.

“We knew we would have our hands full with the defending (league) and OFSAA (Bowl) champions,” Silvestri said. “They are a great team.”

Tassone said 19 Titan starters from last season have returned.

Tonnos got on the scoreboard first when Jackson Taylor hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass. But the home team replied when quarterback Avery Belgrave connected on a deep throw covering 52 yards to Anthony Benjamin. From there, Belgrave faked a handoff and ran around the end for a three-yard TD.

A 58-yard carry by Caleb Kowalchuk then moved More into position for a one-yard run for a major by Giacomo Pugliese.

The Titans tied the score in the final minute of the first half on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Begadon to Taylor.

“It seemed all game when we got momentum, we shot ourselves in the foot,” the More coach said. “We were disappointed in our execution. We have a young team.”

Said Tassone: “This was definitely a challenging game to open up against (More has captured five of the last six league titles). You know St. Thomas More is going to have a lot of skilled players and they’re always well prepared.”

In other action, the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals topped the Cathedral Gaels, 50-0, while the Bishop Ryan Celtics blanked the St. Mary Crusaders, 10-0.

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Photos by Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography 

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