Hawks run roughshod over Bears - literally
by Randy Pascal
The Lively Hawks sure spoiled that party.
While many in the local football community were looking forward to a titanic battle between the St Benedict Bears and the Hawks, teams which,
on paper, appeared to match up extremely well across the board, coach Rej Bonin and the Lively lads seemingly had other plans.
Dominating offensively with a ground attack that battered the Bears all night long, all while limiting the St Benedict offense to only the occasional
march, most of which came late, with the game already decided, the Hawks posted a 35-0 win, adding to their triumph in the 2013 city final.
Lively wasted little time in literally running roughshod over the Bears and hitting the scoreboard midway through the first, with Nicholas Rideout
busting in from the one. Early in quarter two, Rideout would take to the air, connecting with Liam Punkari on a six year touchdown catch, and hooking
up with Noah Funnel in the late stages of the half for a 9 yard pass and run major.
Looking to key on Rideout, the St Benedict defense looked surprised when the Hawks offense provided a steady diet of bursts up the middle early by running
back Steven Head, rewarded for his efforts with Game MVP honours.
Any chance of it being a game in the final 24 minutes evaporated quickly, as Rideout scampered on runs of 28 and 45 yards in the opening Lively offensive
sequence of the second half, his second dash ending only once he had crossed the Bears goal line.
His third touchdown of the night, with 2:24 to play in the third, was a mere formality, as Lively cruised through much of the final quarter. In the mind
of double-duty lineman Benen Dupont, there was no doubt exactly where this victory eminated.
"We had to run the ball," he said. "There were hard pushes on the O-Line, very hard pushes on the O-Line. Everyone on the line worked our tails off to
achieve this. Everyone has their importance, but I feel if it wasn't for the O-Line, it would have been a different story."
Home to the smallest student body of any of the eight schools competing for senior boys football supremacy, Lively requires a "all hands on deck"
mentality that might not be quite as prominent in many of their larger counterparts.
It is evidenced through almost every player that dons a Hawks jersey, including the 18 year old lineman who explained, in most interesting fashion, his
preference for either side of the line.
"When it comes down to just the fun of the game, I prefer defense," he said. "But when it comes down to really helping my team, I'm the only center we
have. In that sense, when it comes down to more than just me, I prefer center."
A veteran in the middle of the Lively defense, linebacker Jeremy Welsh sensed a feeling, within this crew, that was even more tight than in
previous years, seasons in which the bond between teammates was already quite good.
"I think we worked together really well, the chemistry just flowed, it was easy," said Welsh. "It was like we weren't even working for it and it all just
came together." With that sentiment evident from almost every single vantage point of the James Jerome Sports Complex, the Hawks' defense had little
difficulty implementing the strategy their coach had designed.
"Our game plan was to completely shut down Max (MacGillivray), and see if they could beat us without him," said Welsh. "I think we did a pretty
good job of doing that." In fact, few in the city game plan as well as Bonin, with the players in his stead more than willing to sing his praises.
"He's an amazing coach," said Dupont. "I've seen him coach summer ball, when I play Glads, and I see him coach every single day of the football season,
and there's just something about him. He just does it so well."
The Hawks now advance to host the NOSSA semi-final Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., as the West Ferris Trojans from North Bay pay a visit to town.
"It's going to be surreal," stated Welsh. "Football is everything for me. It's going to be bittersweet, no matter what."