Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 12:30 a.m., July 21)
Junior Varsity Panthers head into playoffs riding 8-game winning streak
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Michelle Ayotte of the Gloucester Hornets U14 Impact fends off a defender as she brings the ball upfield against the Gloucester Hornets Attack Gold on Wednesday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Cumberland Panthers junior varsity football team won their eighth straight game on Saturday, but it is win number 11 they have their sights set on as they prepare for the start of the playoffs with aspirations of winning the club's first ever OVFL championship.

The Panthers have so far run roughshod over their opposition, averaging 50 points a game while giving up just 16 points per game. If you take away the lone close game they played -- a 56-49 win over the Toronto Thunder -- the average score of their remaining seven games was 50-11.

But all that doesn't matter a wick if they can't, at the very least, make it to the championship game at Keith Harris Stadium in August. To get there they must first win games number nine and number 10. Last year, their journey came to a premature end when they lost to the Myers Riders in the semi-finals. This year they plan to go all the way.

The key to their continuing to have success is their running game. The Panthers lead the league in rushing yardage (303 yds/game), rushing touchdowns (37), average yards gained per rush (14.2). In the latter category, they're averaging more four yards per play than their nearest rival.

The Panthers' biggest weapon on offense is running back Baxter Balthazar. The South Ottawa Mustangs product eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on Saturday and scored his league-leading 23 touchdown. His running mate, Connor McMahon, has rushed for 670 yards and scored six touchdowns during the regular season.

Quarterback Pascal Roy Lapensée rates among the league leaders in touchdown tosses, an average yards per throw. His faourite targest have been fellow Cumberland Panther product Nick Renaud and Jamal Mavinga with 30 and 32 receptions respectively.

The Panthers will have to wait a week to find out who they'll face in the quarterfinals. The only thing they do know is that they get to play their next two games at home after enjoying a first rounnd by as the top seed.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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