Sports

Football

Reds open NCAA season with win over BT

By Bernie Puchalski

The Denis Morris Reds senior football team, shown in this file shot from last season, opened the Niagara Catholic Athletic Associatin with a 15-0 win over the Blessed Trinity Thunder.

The Denis Morris Reds senior football team, shown in this file shot from last season, opened the Niagara Catholic Athletic Associatin with a 15-0 win over the Blessed Trinity Thunder.

ST. CATHARINES - 

The Denis Morris Reds senior football team picked up right where it left off from last year.

After giving the A.N. Myer Marauders all they could handle in the championship game of last season’s Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Division 1 final, the St. Catharines high school opened the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association season Thursday at Kiwanis Field with a 15-0 win over the visiting Blessed Trinity Thunder.

Owen Wallace scored on a 45-yard punt return in the first half, and Austin Pilato added an 18-yard rushing major in the fourth quarter for the Reds. The Denis Morris defence sealed the deal in the fourth quarter with interceptions by Cam Calder and Mike Domanico and a sack and a fumble recovery by Latrell Harris.

“There is a lot of room for improvement,” Reds coach Rob Battista said. “We did enough to win, but we have a lot of bugs to work out. We have to find backups.”

Denis Morris didn’t have a pre-season scrimmage this year, and it showed Thursday.

“We have to work on tempo and the little things that we have to keep repping to get better,” Battista said.

The Reds lost a few key players from last year’s squad but many others returned.

“We’re really strong in the skilled positions, but we are lacking on the line,” he said.

Lacking lineman is a familiar refrain for many senior teams in Niagara.

“I don’t know,” Battista said. “Maybe mothers aren’t feeding them enough.”

The Thunder were playing their second game of the year, after losing 55-0 to powerful Cardinal Newman in pre-season play.

“It was a big change and we looked a lot more composed today, although the result isn’t what I wanted it to be,” Blessed Trinity head coach Mark Antonelli said.

“But I am proud of the game they played, and this is a game of attrition. In the long run, we will be able to peak at the right time.”

Antonelli fully expected to stay close all game with last year’s finalists.

“We are a different team,” he said. “We had a junior team that won a championship last year and we have a good football team. We just have to believe it.”

Every graduate from the junior team saw playing time Thursday.

Antonelli believes he has a squad that will never quit.

“You saw that in the fourth quarter today,” he said. “They take hits and they will deliver hits to the bitter end. That’s what I love about this bunch.”