find redemption in A-Cup championship
By Fred Sherwin
The Orleans Star
been a year since an undefeated and highly favoured Cumberland
Panthers bantam team was upset in the 2017 A-Cup final
by the Kanata Knights, thanks mainly to mistakes of their
reloaded bantam squad used last year’s disappointing finish
to motivate them to another undefeated record this season.
The second year players on the team were determined to
get back to the A-Cup championship and write a different
ending to their campaign, and that they did in a thoroughly
dominating performance over the Bell Warriors on Sunday.
members of the Cumberland Panthers pose for
a team picture after winning the bantam A-Cup
championship on Sunday. Right, Matthew Lavoie
runs for a long gain against the Bell Warriors
in the 35-0 win. Fred Sherwin/Photo
a slow start that included a 55-yard touchdown pass that
was called back due to an offside penalty, the Panthers’
offence was able to finally get untracked late in the
an interception by Brendon Shaw gave them possession on
the Warriors’ 52-yard line, the Panthers moved the ball
to the 14 thanks to a 28-yard pass from quarterback Zach
Cloutier to Dominic Gobuyan. On the very next play, Cloutier
threw the ball over the middle into the end zone where
it was tipped by Gobuyan into the hands of Shaw, who plays
on both offence and defence, for the touchdown. Matthew
Lavoie then added the extra point to give the Panthers
an early 7-0 lead.
Panthers defence was tested later in the quarter when
the Warriors intercepted an errant pass and ran it down
to Cumberland’s 25-yard line.
Warriors picked up 24 yards on the next play and would
have scored if not for a touchdown saving tackle by one
of the Panther defenders. Still, the Warriors had a fresh
set of downs with only one yard separating them from the
not to let Bell score, the Panthers defence stopped them
on all three attempts with a fourth one thrown in for
good measure when they were called for going offside.
took over on the own five but were forced to punt when
they were unable to get a first down. The result left
the Warriors in excellent field position on the Panthers’
30-yard line where, once again, the Cumberland defence
rose to the challenge, sacking Warriors quarterback Caleb
Faulkner on two successive plays. Nicholas Seguin dropped
him for a loss of nine yards and Jake Teather took him
down for another nine yard loss.
Warriors gained just 55 yards on offence in the first
half, half of which came on one play. By comparison the
Panthers amassed 213 yards on offence.
lopsided offensive output was even more glaring in the
second half. A 38-yard return on the opening kick off
by Schneider Jean-Baptiste gave the Panthers excellent
field position on the Warriors’ 32-yard line. After Shaw
picked up a first down on an 16-yard run through the middle,
the Panthers found themselves with a first and goal on
the 10-yard line. Two plays and an illegal procedure penalty
later, they faced third and goal from the four.
an act of seeming desperation, Cloutier heaved the ball
over the line into the arms of Dante Spaduccini for what
could arguably be the shortest Hail Mary touchdown pass
in football history.
Panthers would score another touchdown in the third quarter
on a play action pass from Cloutier to Ethan Wilson that
covered 73 yards, and two more in the fourth – the first
came on a 29-yard screen pass from Cloutier to Spaduccini,
and the second came on a 49-yard pass from Clouthier to
Gobuyan which made the final score 35-0.
the game, Fletcher credited his defence for putting on
a stellar perfor-mance, and the offence which put the
game away in the second half thanks to the wealth of riches
they have in personnel.
have so many weapons. I can do anything,” the head coach
said without bragging. “I have guys every position on
offence that I can dial up.”
Panthers will need every weapon they have at their disposal
this coming Saturday if they want to come out on top in
the bantam Inter-provicial Bowl in Montréal and make their
season truly perfect.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
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