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(Posted 8:30 a.m., Aug. 25)
Panthers kick off season with split against South Ottawa Raiders
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers punt returner and linebacker Justice Koradi returns a kick during their 81-6 win over the South Ottawa Raiders on Saturday. Lynn Gilbault/Photo

The Cumberland Panthers football club began another season on Saturday by splitting their four games against the South Ottawa Raiders.

The Panthers' tyke team came out on the wrong end of a 44-42 shootout, while the mosquito squad rolled to an impressive 81-6 win in their game. The peewee team also started the season off on a winning note, downing their Raider opponents 19-7, but the bantam squad wasn't able to capitalize on the momentum as they lost 35-34.

In the feature game of the day, the Panthers' mosquito team showed why they are the prohibitive favourites to win this year's A-Cup after coming up short in last year's final with a majority of first year players.

A year older and a year wiser, the Panthers had their way with the Raiders, scoring on every one of their drives. They even scored when they didn't have the ball thanks to a pair of interceptions that were returned for touchdowns..

Star running back Fabrice Mukendi only touched the ball four times and scored all four times. Three of his touchdowns came in the first quarter. Joshua Ruby also scored in the opening stanza to help establish a 26-0 lead after the first 12 minutes.

Things continued to go the Panthers way in the second quarter with Zach Buckley, Ruby, Carter Bennett and Zane Teicroeb all finding the end zone, the latter on a pass from Christian Veilleux.

Up 60-6 at the half, the Panthers let up in the second half which was played entirely under running time, which means the clock was never stopped. Even so they scored three more touchdowns on three possessions to make the final 81-6.

It's hard to tell who's going to offer the Panthers any competition this season. They nearly ran the table last season with a majority of first year players, nearly all of whom are back. The Orleans Bengals, who they lost to in last year's final, have graduated most of their players to the peewee level and are rebuilding.

Panthers head coach Jeff Koradi knows he has a very good team with an excellent shot of repeating the success they enjoyed in 2012 when most of the same players went undefeated and won the NCAFA tyke championship.

"The kids just keep getting better with every year. It's scary in a way. The level of execution, especially this early in the season, is unbelievable," says Koradi who is gunning for his third NCAFA A-Cup in the past four years.

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

 

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