Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Nov. 23


 

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Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney

   


Varsity Football
Injured Gervais leads Panthers to win over Sooners
By Mike Beasley
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers kicker and receiver Xavier Gervais overcame a severelty sprained ankle to kick a field goal and score a pair of touchdowns in 19-0 win over the Ottawa Sooners on Sunday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

It had all the makings of a classic. Two local junior varsity football teams with identical 3-3 records attempting to solidify a playoff spot in this years’ Ontario Provincial Football League (OPFL) post season.

To further thicken the plot, coaches and players from each squad were very familiar with each other by way of playing, working with, or against each other during previous seasons.

That was the stage as the Cumberland Panthers and Ottawa Sooners squared off on Sunday, July 2 at MNP Park on the campus of Carleton University.

In the end, it was Cumberland who stole the show thanks to an MVP performance from placekicker and receiver Xavier Gervais who caught two touchdowns and kicked a field goal despite playing on an injured ankle which he sprained during a pickup basketball game nearly two weeks ago.

Led by Gervais’ 15-point performance, the Panthers beat the Sooners 19-0 to grab Ottawa Junior Varsity East bragging rights. With the win, the Panthers improved their record to 4-3 and temporarily moving themselves into second place in the conference.

“A lot of people around town really built this game up but in the end both teams were very respectful of each other,” said Panthers head coach, Jeff Koradi. “There was definitely a lot of emotion out there, both teams played their hearts out which resulted in a very good football game.”

Nerves may have played a part in a scoreless first half as both teams seemed to be a little on edge and failed to execute with any success.

Cumberland came close to putting points on the board late in the first half after moving down the field with a series of nice runs and accurate passes but a costly offside call on what would have been a long completion stalled the drive at Ottawa’s 42 yard line. Without the penalty, Cumberland would have been looking at a first down, 20 yards from the Ottawa goal line.

The Panthers accepted the call and tried to catch the Sooners napping with a fake punt but couldn’t generate enough yardage to gain a first down and had to turn the ball over with time running out in the half.

Cumberland came back from the break with a renewed energy and confidence which led to the game’s first points when Gervais gingerly walked on to the field and kicked the ball through the uprights from 18-yards out.

Gervais was it again when he and Panthers QB Ryan Licandro hooked up for a 42-yard touchdown reception later in the third quarter thaat was camped by a two point convert by Jonathan Aoude.

Gervais and Licandro would hook up again for a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter capped by a two point convert by Conor McDonald that put the game away out of reach.

When the game stats were broken down, Gervais was responsible for 15 of his team’s 19 points.

“My ankle is badly bruised, I had to tape it up to keep it stable but I wanted to play as well as possible if I got the chance to go in,” Gervais explained. “I didn’t start the game because I couldn’t practice all week but in the second half the coaches told me to get ready to play. I’m really happy that I could contribute to the win.”

So are his coaches and teammates. With a 4-3 record, the Panthers now have 12 points and occupy second place in the Junior Varsity East Division. Cumberland sits behind the undefeated Burlington Stampeders (7-0), 19 points.

The Panthers will close out their regular season at home on Thursday, Nov. 23when they welcome the Guelph Jr. Gryphons. Game time at Millenium Park is 3 p.m.

In other action involving the Panthers, the Varsity Bantam team lost 24-6 to the Sooners and saw their record fall to 2-4. Still they clinched a playoff spot thanks to the winless Mississauga Warriors.

(Posted 11:30 a.m., July 5)

 

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