Titans take Cardinals in senior football

Titans take Cardinals in senior football
Posted on 10/10/2023
BT and SJHN football players

By Larry Moko

The only two teams with undefeated records in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior high school football treated a capacity crowd at St. John Henry Newman to a Friday Night Lights thriller.

The Bishop Tonnos Titans (4-0) led all the way against the Cardinals but were hard pressed to hang on for a 7-6 victory at Newman’s homecoming.

As the score indicated, it was a defensive struggle between two schools that faced each other in last year’s league championship and again with the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference title on the line.

The Cardinals (2-1) trailed throughout but moved into field-goal range with two minutes remaining. At that point, Adams Yusuph’s three-point try from the 32-yard line sailed wide right and Elliot Blake returned the ball out of the back of the end zone to avoid giving up the game-tying single.

“When I caught it, I had no idea where I was on the field (one yard from the end line),” Blake said. “I looked down and saw that I was still in bounds. I thought ‘I can run this out and we can run out the clock.’”

The Cardinals did force the visitors to punt on the next series of downs, however, and regained possession on their own 40-yard line with 51 seconds remaining. Newman quarterback Lucas Barresi then hooked up with Markus Palermo for a 10-yard gain through the air before the game end with three incompletions.

“It was a great atmosphere here tonight,” Tonnos coach Anthony Tassone said. “Newman is a great team with great coaches. And those kids are fundamentally sound.

“We’re proud to come out on the winning end.”

It took the Titans only four plays from scrimmage to get on the scoreboard. Blake dashed for carries of four, 45 and 23 yards to set up quarterback Ryan Begadon’s one-yard touchdown plunge. Francesco Romano’s conversion attempt was successful.

Before half time, Yusuph gave Newman a lift with an interception from his linebacker position. And seven plays after that the left-footed place kicker cut the margin to four points with an 18-yard field goal.

The Cardinals edged closer in the third quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Yusuph – a valued member of Newman’s silver-medal winning soccer team last year – who is place kicking for the first time.

“I didn’t kick it hard enough and it curled,” Yusuph said of his third shot at the uprights. “It’s not like kicking a soccer ball. They were counting on me. The next time I’ve got to get it.

“We played well. After that quick touchdown we shut them out the whole game.”

Blake, who plays both safety and running back, helped Tonnos capture its first ever OFSAA bowl title in 2022.

“We still haven’t played to our full potential yet,” he said. “I’d say in this game our whole defence played amazing … six points isn’t bad at all.”

The Titans shut down a strong Newman passing attack and got interceptions by halfback Luca Tassone and tackle Logan Dolbie Talbot. Said coach Tassone: “We put it on our defence to make a few stops today and they did that for us down the stretch.”

The Titans coach also said Blake, linebacker Brodie Corbett and end Eric Medeiros made significant contributions.

“Brodie has been a leader for us the last two years. He’s emotionally into it. Sometimes he takes it to the edge. That’s what we want him to be … on the edge.

“Eric is undersized as a defensive end but he’s a valuable player who does everything that he has to do.”

And mentioning Blake, Tassone said: “Pound-for-pound he’s one of the toughest hitters I’ve ever coached. I’ve coached him since he was a very young kid and he’s always been that way.”

In other football action Friday, the St. Thomas More Knights defeated the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 25-8, and the St. Jean de Brébeuf Braves topped the St. Mary Crusaders, 23-1.

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SJHN football playerPhotos by Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography