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U16 Jr Spartans claw their way back to the .500 mark

Saddled with three straight losses to start the summer, the Sudbury U16 Jr Spartans have responded with three straight victories, climbing their way back to the .500 mark.

Unfortunately, it looks like coach Jordan Desilets and company will need to extend their winning streak by another two games in order to keep alive their dreams of an OSFL (Ontario Summer Football League) title this year.

With the Toronto Jr Argos (3-3) and the Durham Dolphins (0-5) still on their schedule ahead, the task is clearly not an impossible one.

"We knew those were some good teams and that after those three games, things might get a little easier," admitted second year slotback / wide receiver Dylan Nelson, looking back on the mindset that allowed his team to overcome the challenging start.

"We knew that and didn't get down and just kept pushing, maybe locked in a little more in practice. We have a lot of guys who are really committed, a lot of guys who just don't want to lose."

A setback was seldom a risk against the winless Clarington Knights as running back Evan Doyle piled up more than 100 yards on the ground, including a pair of rushing majors while quarterback Evan Demarchi enjoyed a strong outing in the wind and the rain, his afternoon highlighted by a pair of long completions to widout Noah Skrobot.

With the visitors jumping out to an early lead, coach Desilets found playing time for much of the lineup after seeing his team battle their way through contests decided by essentially a touchdown or less in four of their first five encounters.

Noah Parsons connected with Owen Blay on a five yard bubble pass for a score, QB Kade Campbell scrambled 20 yards to the end zone, Keegan Adair came though with a key interception while Micah Taylor broke up a small handful of Clarington pass attempts as Sudbury excelled on both sides of the ball.

"I think in Clarington, things really started clicking," said Nelson, a 15 year-old grade 11 student at St Benedict Catholic Secondary School. "I think we played as a team better than any other game."

On a team blessed with some key leaders, the super quick passing threat demonstrated the value of unselfish play as well as anyone in the Jr Spartans' lineup. "I think a lot if it came down to blocking because we really worked a lot on blocking in practice," said Nelson.

"You have to realize (as a receiver) that it's not your main job to block, but only one guy can have the ball. Those other four or five receivers have to be blocking because if a run goes outside or if someone catches a pass, if you make that extra block, you can go from a five yard gain to a touchdown."

There is clearly a football player's mentality within the makeup of the basketball star who also competed at the 2023 OFSAA Track & Field Championships as a runner in the Novice 400m race.

"You've got to want to make contact," stressed Nelson. "As a receiver, you've got to want to be physical. It's a lot about angles, taking the right angle and not worrying about if you get laid out on a play."

"You need to want to put your body on the line."

The U16 Jr Spartans are in Toronto on Saturday (July 6th) battling the Jr Argos before returning home next weekend (July 13th) to play host to the Durham Dolphins for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

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