It sure didn't take very long this fall for my powers of prognostication to be called into question.
Just one week into the 2022 SDSSAA Senior Boys Football schedule, I was sitting at 0-2 and at jeopardy of a winless week if not for a come from behind victory of the defending champs.
It's all shaping up to have the makings of a wonderfully chaotic season for fans, players, coaches and media alike.
The trend started early as the Lasalle Lancers, making a return to the senior ranks for the first time in six years but coming off their first ever title at the junior level managed to hold the Lively Hawks to single digit scoring until the final minute of the game, posting a 17-11 win out of the gates.
Touchdowns from Sylas Asare-Corbiere and Zidain Allen proved to be just enough to allow Lasalle to pull away, adding a field goal by Allen as the Hawks could manage only a major score from Owen MacDonald and a field goal from Ryan Ricci, with the Lancers surrendering a safety touch in the final minute of play to avoid punting from the end zone.
While this affair could have gone either way, the same could not be said for the first game on Friday as the Confederation Chargers dominated from start to finish, surprising the St Benedict Bears by a final count of 39-8.
Those who were expected to shoulder the load for Confederation head coach Shane Hutchinson certainly did so: Quentin Harris scoring on both sides of the ball, adding a 55 yard interception return to a short touchdown run from his position as tailback; Braeden Beggs serving as Mr Everything, looking impressive in running for a touchdown, passing to Kohen Crane for another and kicking converts and a field goal to round out his very busy game.
But even more noticeable was the complete commitment to ball pursuit defensively as the previously identified key cogs (Logan Carr, Bryson Smith and such) received across the board support from folks like Austin Arlt, Landon Doyle, Riley Gosselin and Owen Visentin – well, pretty much everybody who lined up on the Confederation side of the defense.
"We came ready to play," suggested Harris in something of an understatement, post-match. "We grinded hard all the way through training camp, came in prepared and it showed today. Our pass protection improved a lot from the pre-season. I think that's what won us the game today."
Combining forces at Confederation into a singular varsity unit, coach Hutchinson is able to bring in fellow football mentors Matt Mott, Dustin Crowder, Nick Beech and Joey L'Heureux under one all-encompassing staff, a collection of minds that seems to be already making an impression on the young men in the green and gold.
"Our coaches have a huge part in that win," said Harris. "They came out and they bring the energy and that transfers over to us. But they can only do so much. They can't make the tackles for us."
Rounding out the scoring in this encouter were Braeden Beggs (3 yard TD run; 5 converts; FG and a single) and Jordan Guerrette (2 yard TD run) of te Chargers, along with Shawn Huot (1 yard TD run) and Thomas Rinaldi (two point conversion reception - pass from Phoenix Marks) for the Bears.
Finally, through a quarter and a half last Friday night, the St Charles College Cardinals could not have played much better, Looking extremely crisp offensively, the Cards sustained a lengthy first quarter drive that culminated in the next period with a 22 yard pass from quarterback Josh Morin tpo speedster Nicholas McGee.
Following an interception by Logan Ramalho-Chatten, St Charles doubled their lead on their next possession as McGee darted out around the corner from 12 yards out. It was then that the Lo-Ellen Park Knights displayed, in rapid succession, the complete depth of their offensive arsenal, with Dax Mazzuchin, Liam Conlin, Carson Huzij and Alex Miles all reaching the end zone in the final 5:40 of the opening half.
In the end, a 37-14 victory might have been a slightly larger margin than most anticipated, though a second quarter injury to Morin really seemed to take the wind out of the St Charles sails.
The Knights cruised in the second half, adding to their offensive only slightly as punter Matt Korzeniecki bombed a kick 72 yards for a single, another another shorter one on the second last play of the game.
Quarterback Steven Sola, who scrambled his way to likely 60-70 yards rushing in the game, registered his fourth passing major of the game, connecting with Carter Sagle from 25 yards out, with Trent Laferriere splitting the uprights with five PATs.
Despite the slow start, cornerback Riley Leblanc was proud of the way the Knights responded defensively. "Lo-Ellen has always been a team that doesn't give up," noted the 17 year-old fifth year Lo-Ellen product.
"We fixed our mistakes during our timeout with (coach) Jacob Bartolucci. We worked on our contain to stop that run and made them throw more, worked on our coverage a little bit and we were able to come back."
There is little doubt that this Lo-Ellen defensive unit is one that operates by committee, with each and every member jumping on to the tackles stat sheet, including Leblanc, who often found himself one on one with shifty opponents and a whole lot of field to cover.
"I was playing deep but I could see thos outside runs and got over there in time to make the tackle," said the young many who hopes to play Spartans football next summer. "Coach Bartolucci taught me to just watch their hips so you know which way they are turning - and make sure that you are looking back so you can see the quarterback."
Week two finds another trio of entertaining encounters on the schedule, all taking place on Friday as St Benedict battles Lasalle, St Charles meets up with Lively and Confederation gets put to the test opposite Lo-Ellen.