Volume 12 Week 5

Thursday, Nov. 23


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney

   


(Posted 2 p.m., Nov. 7)
Bantam Panthers come up short in bid for perfect season

By Mike Beasley
Orléans Online

The Cumberland Panthers bantam team has a date with destiny on Thursday, Nov. 23. A date they hope will result in a city championship and the fulfillment of what has so far been a perfect season.

The Cumberland Panthers bantam football team could not have picked a worse time to come up with their least productive effort of the season.

All their hard work and success during an undefeated 8-0 regular season campaign went for not as they fell 17-13 to the Kanata Knights (7-1) in the NCAFA A-Cup final at Millennium Park on Sunday.

The Panthers dream of a perfect season came to an abrupt end as they struggled to execute and put up points in a game where they needed them most.

“We made some mistakes, it sucks to lose and not fulfill our potential,” said Panthers head coach Dave Fletcher.

Many of the Panthers blunders were self-inflicted with fumbles and dropped passes when it seemed like they were mounting an attack. Cumberland played from behind the entire game with Kanata taking advantage of their opposition’s miscues.

A prime example of the Panthers’ mistakes came in the form of a trio of rouges given up by the team as a result of poor ball handling by Cumberland’s kick returners.

The Panthers turned the ball over three times on fumbles and dropped several pass attempts when no Kanata defender was around.

“This game aside, we played extremely well this season and enjoyed an incredible amount of success,” Fletcher stated when addressing his team after the disappointing loss. “It hurts to lose but we can’t get it back, despite it not being our best effort, we still fell one play short.”

The play or set of downs Fletcher was referring to came in the last minute of the game when Cumberland still had a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A Kanata fumble at mid-field gave the Panthers the chance to drive for a winning score, but they were unable to generate any offence and had to give up the ball on downs.

The Panthers defence did its level best to keep the game within reach, stifling Kanata’s offence and providing the offence with one last gasp.

With 34 seconds remaining on the clock, Cumberland started an offensive series on the Knights’ 30-yard line, but couldn’t click on two pass attempts and a running play. And that was it, game over.

The much anticipated contest featured the undefeated Panthers against the 7-1 Kanata Knights, the two top teams in the Bantam division. Cumberland finished the regular season averaging 35.5 points per game while allowing a stingy 3.7 points against.

Kanata wasn’t too shabby themselves scoring an average of 33.2 points per game while giving up and average of 13.8.

On their path to the final match-up, Cumberland put a hurt on their opposition, thrashing the Myers Riders 68-0 in the quarterfinals and beating the Rideau Red-blacks 42-14 in the semis.

Unlike their earlier success in the playoffs, the Panthers struggled to score points in the final.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong,” said a dejected Cumberland QB, Christian Veilleux after the game.

The Panthers’ quarterback tried his best on several occasions to rally his troops by running the ball for first downs, but it simply wasn’t enough.

Veilleux was named Cumberland’s “Player of the Game” for his efforts but it came in a losing effort.

“Coming into the game, I really thought that we (Cumberland) would be playing in the Interprovincial Bowl in a couple of weeks but we didn’t play to our potential and made too many mistakes.”

The bantam team was attempting to give the Panthers Football Club its third championship of the day after the tyke and mosquito squads won earlier in the day.

Panthers DB Justice Koradi knows what it takes to win at the tyke, mosquito and peewee levels where he’s been a part of four NCAFA championship winning teams.

This past summer, Koradi played a pivotal role in helping the Panthers junior varsity team win the Ontario Provincial Football League title.

With the loss in Sunday’s A-Cup final, Koradi felt the disappointment of fall-ing short in the goal of playing in the Interprovincial Bowl.

“The importance of both games was similar but different things happened in each one of them,” Koradi explained. “In the A-Cup final we didn’t get the right start and struggled to find our game. I’m not going to make excuses for the loss because Kanata came into the game well prepared and ready to play.”

Koradi and several of his teammates have one more year of bantam eligibility left to make another run at the title.

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

 

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