Now the Lo-Ellen Park (senior football) Knights can put their feet up and relax.
Not that one would expect head coach Alex Vendramin to follow that strategy, despite the fact that his 4-0 team has now wrapped up top spot in regular season play and will not take to the field again until October 29th in the playoffs.
The Knights deserve both the accolades and the breathing room that they now enjoy, but a 9-7 victory Friday night over the St Charles College Cardinals provides plenty of proof that there remains an awful lot of room for improvement.
Still, it would be hard not to be pleased with the results to date.
"We knew that we had a group of guys that are able to get it done," said veteran safety/wide receiver Carter Will. "Even though we haven't had competitive football going on, we've been doing some things in the spring with Riley Roy and Northern Built."
In fact, this core group has taken on more than just a standard leadership role in getting the Knights to this point. "Right away, when the season started, it was very evident that a lot of the senior guys were going to have to help out with the coaching," said Will.
"The seniors really had to step up." Seniors like Carter Will, Cooper Fontaine, Bryce Desabrais, Liam Conlin and others, young men who have been front and centre in pretty much every victory to date.
Facing St Charles, Desabrais accounted for the only Lo-Ellen major, with Will converting that score and punter Matthew Korzeniecki adding a single. Nicholas McGee handled the offense for the Cards, sailing the point after attempt through the uprights moments after his own touchdown run.
For the record, this abbreviated season has seen the Knights dispose of the St Benedict Bears (16-6), the Confederation Chargers (7-0) and the Lively Hawks (33-14), prior to slipping past St Charles.
The triumph in Walden over the Hawks featured no less than five interceptions by the Knights (Will with 2, Ethan Katernyuk, Peter Guerra and Riley Leblanc - one each), while grade 10 quarterback Steven Sola handled the offense impressively following an early injury to starter Adam Pagan.
Liam Conlin rambled home on a pair of short runs, with Calen Jutila (11 yd run), Adam Pagan (3 yd pass reception from Sola) and Seth Tomassini (1 yd run) rounding out the TD resume for Lo-Ellen.
Brek Morrow (three yd run) and Ryan Rubic (80 yd run) both crossed the goal line for the home team, with Hughie Campbell and Morrow (QB) connecting for a two-point conversion as well.
All in all, things have come together nicely at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School.
"We have a lot of the hockey players who are finised playing competitive hockey and this is the year they are allowed to play other sports in high school," said Will. "Thankfully, we have about five to ten guys who are brand new to football but who are just as athletic as the next guy on the team."
A football junkie at his core, Carter Will knows the task is far from complete. "It's important to stay focused," he said. "We have exactly 21 days from our last game to the semi-final game. Just ebcause we're the number one team going into the playoffs, it doesn't mean that we will be just walking through the playoffs."
The Confederation Chargers, who lost to Lo-Ellen by just a touchdown (7-0) got their offense untracked in a big way with a 27-14 win over St Benedict last Thursday, as Ryan Ward, Andrew Lewis, Logan Carr and Owen Visentin all hitting paydirt for coach Shane Hutchison and company.
Peter Reich (TD + 2 X PATs) and Mattaeus Grossi (TD) recorded the offense for the 0-3 Bears, who face Lively in a do or die matchup this coming Friday evening.
In junior boys play, the Lasalle Lancers have not slowed down one bit after stopping the St Charles Cardinals (26-8) in their season opener. Zidain Allen has added seven more touchdowns to the four he scored in week one as Lasalle disposed of both the Lively Hawks (32-20) and the St Benedict Bears (37-20).
The Cardinals bounced back from their early setback, edging St Benedict 23-19 but completely grounding the Hawks (34-0) with a touchdown brigade that featured Cody Osawamick, Jacob Morin, Kevin Lopez, Daine Kutchaw-Taylor and Derek Idehen.