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Spartans improve to 3-0 as defense holds firm
2022-06-21
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The Sudbury Spartans defense had every reason to be amped following a 14-8 victory at home Saturday evening against the Sault Steelers.

While the unit was solid throughout the team's 2-0 start, there was certainly something to be said for holding the visitors to just two points until a last minute TD pass from Alonzo Clarke to Taylor Holub made things a little more interesting.

Quentin Emley captured the moment perfectly after hauling in his first NFC interception, despite suiting up as a wide receiver with the St Benedict Bears last fall.

"The guy almost got me long there," said Emley, donning the "Hardest Worker" helmet on behalf of the defense and still grinning from ear to ear. "I turned around and saw the ball up in the air and thought - no way!"

"I caught it and was so excited."

Beyond the pick, Emley also stepped up with some key open field one on one tackles, earning his first start with the Spartans defense, banged up a little with some key veterans lost to injury (Joe Shyminsky and Jacob Bartolucci, among others).

"You have to think that you're not going to let him past you, that you are better than him," said Emley. "If you don't make this tackle, he might go for a touchdown - so it's all on you."

"It gets the adrenaline pumping; you feel like you can get him down. It's awesome."

A 44 yard pass and run touchdown from Adam Rocha to James Howatt along with a 27 yard run to paydirt for Nicholas Rideout, both in the opening half, were more than enough to offset an early safety the Spartans offense conceded.

While Sudbury struggled to mount much of a running attack - they finished with 54 yards on 17 carries - a very well balanced aerial display would see Rocha connect with seven different receivers, amassing 213 yards along the way.

Rideout (5 catches for 68 yards), Zack Primeau (2/54), Howatt (2/50) and Victor Paajanen (3/29) all contributed nicely, even if the post-game talk surrounded the Spartans work on the other side of the ball.

"To be honest, we wanted to play harder, bigger, fatter," noted defensive end T.J. Bertrand, his 3.5 tackles and two QB sacks a big part of the reason that the Steelers were held to just 87 yards on offense.

"Our corners really stepped it up the past few weeks and we have a new safety who did a nice job."

It was indeed a team effort, with Eric Conrad showing the way with 4.5 tackles, followed closely by Andrew Gillis (4), Eric Breau (3.5) and Andrew Kilby (3.5).

"I probably have more problems defending the passing game; I'm a little slower," acknowledged Bertrand, just 18 years old and having just graduated from St Benedict's one year ago.

"With the run, I find it easy to read - but being away and not playing for three years did make it a little bit harder."

Joining Emley on the pick list were Keegan Chisnell and Nicolson Christmas, while Brandon Soucy recovered a fumble that was forced by linebacking stalwart Eric Conrad.

The Spartans are back at home for a second straight week this coming Saturday, welcoming the Sarnia Imperials to town for a 7:00 p.m. showdown.

Orendorff and Associates