Raiders look to future, Reds ready now
The Denis Morris Reds defeated the Holy Cross Raiders 46-0 in NCAA high school football action Wednesday.
Despite an 0-5 record, the Holy Cross Raiders senior football team is enjoying playing in the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association.
“We are happy and excited to be in this league,” Raiders head coach Jim Craig said, prior to his team’s 46-0 loss to the visiting Denis Morris Reds Wednesday. “Games are getting completed, games are getting played and we are happy to renew some old rivalries like with Denis Morris.”
Last season, the Raiders competed in Division 2 of the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association and had one game forfeited at half-time and another game forfeited. The forfeits were one of the reasons cited by some for the NCAA splitting from the NRHSAA and forming its own leagues.
“We are a young team rising to the challenge every week and we’re getting better and better every week,” Craig said.
Holy Cross has struggled to compete with Division 1 Catholic programs in past years.
“It’s certainly a challenge for us to do it, but we are looking forward to it,” Craig said. “Our kids are here every night and they’re working hard.”
To make the transition easier and give the senior team more depth, Holy Cross is no longer running a junior team.
“Numbers and depth are an issue are certainly an issue when you are playing in this league and we felt we could compete more effectively by having more numbers and depth game in and game out,” he said. “It also enables us to practise with a full squad.”
Several of the team’s Grade 9 and 10 players have suited up for significant minutes for the Raiders.
“We have two Grade 9s who start for us and four Grade 10s who start for us,” Craig said.
It’s a big step up for junior-aged players to compete in senior football, but the Raiders have put the youngsters in spots where they can be successful.
“They have been successful for us all year and we’re looking forward to the future here,” he said.
High school football is certainly cyclical in nature and Denis Morris is enjoying its time at the peak of its cycle. With Thursday’s win, first-place Denis Morris improved to 5-0 and are in great shape to hold home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Originally, the top team in the NCAA after the regular season ended was supposed to leave the league and play the NRHSAA regular season champion to see who advanced to the OFSAA Bowl playdowns. But now, the NCAA has decided on playoff semifinals and a final to determine its representative.
Leading the way for the Reds Friday was Jack Andrews, who celebrated his 18th birthday with a sack, a short touchdown run and countless tackles on defence and special teams play.
“He is all over the place,” DM head coach Rob Battista said. “He reads plays really well and you can ask him to do anything and he’ll do it for you.”
Battista is confident Andrews can play at the university level.
“Hopefully he can go where he wants to go, but he definitely has the potential.”
The six-foot, 190-pounder returned for a second year of Grade 12 for two reasons.
“I came back to get my grades up so I can go to university and secondly I wanted to win the championship,” Andrews said.
He has been motivated all season by a close loss last year to Denis Morris in the NRHSAA Division 1 final.
“It has a fire burning in me since we stepped on the field in the summer for this,” he said. “Our one goal is an OFSAA championship.”
When his high school career is done, he hopes to play at McMaster.
“It felt like a family when I went there and it has my program (psychology).”
Reds 46 Raiders 0
Standard Star of the Game: Denis Morris’ Jack Andrews with a sack, a three-yard TD run and several tackles.
For the Denis Morris Reds: Andrews, TD; Travis Arp, 6-8 passing for 116 yards, including 13-yard TD pass to Owen Wallace and 50-yard TD pass to James Holt; Cam Calder, three catches for 17 yards and 3-3 passing for 49 yards, including 24-yard TD pass to Dylan Warnock; Mike Domanico, two interceptions, including a 45-yard return for a major; Mason Kaminga, 25-yard interception return for a TD; Evan Charnock, 24-yard field goal; Austin Pilato, six carries for 81 yards; Wallace, two catches for 49 yards; Brock Benevento, four carries for 27 yards.
For the Holy Cross Raiders: Christian Hernandez, convert block.
Game stats: Net offence (pass-run=total): DM 165-140=305, HC 26-0-26. First downs: DM 13, HC 3. Turnovers: DM 0, HC 3. Penalties: DM 10 for 125 yards, HC 0.