The St Charles College Cardinals senior football team are finally hitting their stride and it's leaving quite a mess behind them in league standings.
In easily the sharpest performance of an abbreviated fall season, the Cardinals improved to 2-1 with a 37-9 win over the Confederation Chargers as quarterback Josh Morin threw for three touchdown passes while the St Charles' defence finished the contest with four interceptions.
The impressive triumph sets up a scenario whereby an SCC victory on Thursday over the struggling Lively Hawks in the regular season finale would secure second place for the Cardinals (at 3-1), behind the Lo-Ellen Park Knights (4-0), but with Lively, Confederation and the St Benedict Bears all tied for third, deadlocked at 1-3 and only two of the three advancing to post-season play.
"It took us a few weeks to get going," suggested St Charles' head coach Rob Zanatta, whose team slipped past St Benedict (17-12) and lost a close one to Lo-Ellen (7-7), all after the Cards saw their season opener postponed due to a COVID outbreak at the school.
"None of our kids tested positive, but 16 of them were sent home due to contact tracing," explained Zanatta. In the end, it created a bit of a lag in terms of establishing the timing that is so crucial in football.
With touchdowns from Cody Wood-Jalbert (2), Keegan Blais, Tyrese Brown and Nick McGee, as well as a field goal and four converts from the latter, the Cardinals were looking fully synchronized versus Confederation.
"Our running game really picked up," said Zanatta. "We got outside on Confederation and used our speed, but we also ran hard. Tyrese Brown ran like a beast. Not once did he go down on initial contact; he was running for five, six, ten more yards, every time."
On the flip-side, Parker Tardif, Owen Parsons, Parker Tilbury and Braedon Albuoy all picked off opposition passes for the Cards, with a major to Clint Corbett the only touchdown Confederation was able to record.
"Our kids moved to the ball well, read the ball and played the man and the ball," said Zanatta. "They were fighting for possession of the ball. I was very impressed with that."
Also impressive in its resiliance was the performance of the previously winless Bears, keeping their playoff hopes alive with a 21-7 decision over the Hawks. Zack Primeau, Isaac Julius and Liam Blanchard all reached the end zone for the winners, with Peter Reich nailing the point after each and every time.
Bennett Sobiera replied with a TD for Lively, which appears to be feeling the effects of fielding both a senior and junior team at a school that is not blessed with the same student body base as some of the area's larger institutions.
Things will become more clear Thursday evening, with Lively and St Charles set to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. that day at the James Jerome Sports Complex.
Semi-finals are set for the following Friday (October 29th), with the league championship taking place on Thursday, November 4th at 4:00 p.m.