Despite carrying a 6-0 record plus one playoff win into their OSFL (Ontario Summer Football League) semi-final encounter on Saturday, the Sudbury Jr Spartans still felt they had something to prove.
Sure, they had looked impressive in building momentum over their "AA" counterparts, running away from most of their opponents by halftime.
But these were the Peterbrough Wolverines now making the trek north, a "AAA" crew that had struggled against the big boys, provincially-speaking - but was still a "AAA" crew nonetheless; and a team which has given Sudbury summer football entries fits over the years.
It would take all of two plays for folks to realize, if they haven't already, that these Jr Spartans are for real.
After picking up a first down on the very first run from scrimmage, the homeside entrusted the ball on play two to talented running back Zidain Allen. Some 57 yards later, the locals recorded their first of five majors on the day, with the Wolverines held to a single first half rouge as Sudbury advanced to the league final thanks to a 34-1 win over Peterborough.
"We planned to take the ball, either way, and go down and score and say: welcome to Sudbury," noted head coach Jordan Desilets on Sunday, having enjoyed a full 24 hours to bask in the glow of victory.
"That just set the tone for the rest of the game."
It did indeed.
Following a Lucas Mullally sack and a fumble recovery by Zak Legault, the Jr Spartans capitalized on a very short filed, with quarterback Steven Sola connecting with Connor Campeau for a four yard touchdown pass.
Sola would call his own number in the second quarter, giving Sudbury a 21-1 lead at the half, showing little intent of taking their foot off the gas.
More than happy to play the field possession game, the homeside eventually strikes in quarter three as Paolo Grossi returned a punt 35 yards, well into Wolverines territory where Player of the Game Carson Huzij capped off a short drive with a four yard run to the house.
Paolo Grossi would add two more interceptions to his impressive season resume, brother Massimo Grossi would jump aboard the turnover train with a fumble recovery of his own and Sola put this contest to bed with his second rushing TD of the day, this one from roughly 30 yards out.
Though Peterborough workhorse Patrick Adderley did manage to amass 147 yards on 21 carries, there was little to show for his efforts on the scoreboard.
"Yes, they ran, but when we needed a stop, we got one," noted Desilets. "They had a drive to start the second half that took almost five minutes off the clock - and they were not even at midfield."
"My biggest thing was let's not get beat on one play. I had our DBs (defensive backs) playing off a bit (in the second half). They would run outside and we would come crashing down at that point."
"They got some yards but I wasn't all that worried about it."
In fact, where early season games might have seen two or three Sudbury defenders dominating the tackle totals, it is now a much more balanced roster that chips in defensively.
"Honestly, everybody on defense has improve dramatically," said Desilets, highlighted the play of Nathan Drolet, Noah Larcher and Jacob Duhamel in particular on this day.
"I have eleven DBs and I can trust pretty much all of them to go out there right now and perform."
Desilets and company are likely to need every bit of their progress to date when they meet the Vaughan Rebels next weekend in London with the league title on the line.
Their fellow finalists boast a lineup that includes six or seven players who suited up with Team Ontario and are coming off an exciting 20-14 semi-final win over the Sarnia Sturgeons, scoring the game-winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play.