Panthers advance to OPFL championship
By Fred Sherwin
Cumberland Panthers Junior Varsity football team is heading
to the Ontario Provincial Football League championships
in Kingston next weekend thanks to a nail-biting 15-8
win over the Burlington Stampeders on Sunday.
Burlington defender desperately tries to slow
down Cumberland Panther defensive back Kevin
Victome after Victome intercepted a pass late
in Sunday's East Conference final. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Panthers went into the East Confernce final riding a five-game
winning streak after starting the season 1-3, including
a 36-35 loss to the Stampeders in Week 3.
Burlington team was coming off a 20-8 win over the fourth
place Durham Dolphins in last week’s Conference semi-finals
after suffering their only loss of the regular season
in their final game of the regular season in Week 8.
first half of Sunday’s Conference was a knocked down,
drag them off the field defensive affair with neither
team able to even get a sniff of their opponent’s end
second half was a different affair altogether. After both
teams turned the ball over on their opening series, the
Stampeders took advantage of their superior field position
to go for a single point by attempting a field goal from
the 32 yard line.
line drive kick was drilled 15 yards deep into the end
zone and deep back Kevin Victome was unable to get it
out, conceeding the point in the process.
Stampeders slim lead didn’t last long. After the Panthers’
next drive stalled just past midfield, Burlington’s offence
was back in business, but rather than keep the ball on
the ground they decided to test the Panthers’ pass defence.
result was a pick six by Oliver Tetrault who ran the ball
back 60-yards to give his team the lead. It was the first
of several big plays by the defence, and Tetrault in particular,
who only had one interception in his previous nine games.
Stampeders responded on their next drive by moving the
ball 45 yards on five plays to score a converted touchdown
and move back into the lead.
8-7 early in the fourth quarter and facing third and long
on the Stampeders’ 39-yard line, the Panthers dug into
their bag of tricks and pulled out their own version of
the fumble-rooskie. Instead of snapping the ball directly
to quarterback Ryan Licandro, the centre held onto the
ball as Licandro pulled away, faking a rollout and allowing
running back Scott Fulton to take the ball from the centre
and run straight up the field and into the end zone. The
Stampeders bit so hard on the fake that Fulton was barely
quarterback Ryan Licandro scrambles for a
first down against the Burlington Stampeders
in the East Conference final on Sunday. Fred
13-8, the Panthers went for the two-point convert on a
pass from Licandro to a wide open Xavier Gervais to put
the visitors up by a converted touchdown.
the ensuing kick-off, the Burlington kick returner mistakenly
thought the ball was going out of bounds, allowing the
coverage man Justice Koradi to touch it last which gave
the Panthers a new set of downs on the Stampeders 35-yard
line. When they failed to capitalize on the opportunity
and make it a two possession game, the door was left open
for a possible Burlington comeback. It was soon slammed
shut by Victome and Tetrault who ended the Stampeders’
two remaining drives with interceptions.
second INT of the game in the final minute, clinched the
win for the Panthers. He ended the game with two interceptions,
including the pick six, a blocked kick, and a loose ball
recovery on second blocked kick. He also made five solo
had another solid game at quarterback, completing 12 of
17 passes for 117 yards, and Fulton finished the game
with 106 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
Panthers will now take on the Essex Ravens in next Sunday’s
Premier Junior Varsity championship game at Queen’s University
in Kingston. Kick off is at 1 p.m.
Ravens are a formidable squad, averaging just under 40
points per game on offence. They scored 118 points in
their two playoff games, including a 48-9 win over the
Cambridge Lions in the West Conference final on Saturday.
head coach Jeff Koradi knows his defence will have to
be at their best if the team is to have a fighting chance.
“Our defence will have to come up big, but it’s the championship.
It’s going come down to who can execute on the field and
make the fewest mistakes. That’s what football is all
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