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(Posted 12:30 p.m., Aug. 3)
Panther JV, bantam teams advance to OVFL conference finals
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panther running back Baxter Balthazar splits the defence to pick up extra yardage against the York Simcoe Bucs on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Cumberland Panthers will be well represented at the Ontario Varsity Football League conference finals next weekend after the club's junior and bantam teams won their respective semi-finals on Saturday.

The junior varsity squad scored on their first three possessions in rolling to a 52-12 win over the York Simcoe Bucs, while the bantam team avenged an early season loss to Metro Toronto with a 42-20 win in the big city.

Pascal Roy Lapensée threw five touchdown passes and scored another on the ground in leading the junior varsity Panthers over the Bucs.

The first touchdown was set up by a 41-yard pass from Lapensée-Roy to Dylan St. Pierre. Alex Lawrie then ran the ball in from six yards out for the major. The Panthers' quarterback scored the team's second touchdown on the ground before throwing consecutive touchdown passes to Jamal Mavinga, St. Pierre and Lawrie.

Roy Lapensée would throw three more touchdown passes in the second half to cement the win. He ended the game going 8-for-12 for 248 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.

He will need to be sharp again next week in a rematch of last year's Wettges Conference championship game which the Myers Riders won 36-20. In their only previous meeting this season the Panthers won 49-32. Next week's conference final will be held at Millennium Park.

Saturday's bantam semi-final between the Panthers and the Metro Toronto Wildcats was only slightly less lopsided than the JV game. Eager to avenge their opening season overtime loss to the Wildcats in May, the Panthers scored twice in the opening minutes to take a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Playing in front of their hometown fans, the Wildcats were able to come back to tie the game late in the second quarter, but they left enough time on the clock to allow Panthers' return man Kian Williams to run the kickoff back inside the 15-yard line. Noah Gauthier then ran the ball in to give Cumberland a 21-14 lead going into the halftime break.

The Panthers went to work immediately after the break. Williams ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown to start the third quarter and then Kevin recovered the ensuing "moonshot" kickoff and ran it for another major, and just like that Cumberland was leading 35-14 before the Wildcats knew what hit them.

The Panthers added one more touchdown in the third quarter before the Wildcats finally responded with their third touchdown of the game in the fourth, but then the result was already a foregone conclusion.

Like their junior varsity clubmates, the bantam Panthers will be out for revenge when they play the Myers Riders on Saturday. The defending league champion Riders handed the Panthers a 35-26 loss on Week 8 of the regular season.

Panthers' head coach Jeff Koradi is promising a different result this time around.

"We want them. We're ready," says Koradi. ""We've worked on a lot of things and we've made a few adjustments and we're ready."

The two teams will be playing for the right to represent the Wettges Conference in the OVFL championship game on Aug. 16.

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


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