London Free Press, September 28, 2011


HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Lions kicker puts best foot forward


In the right leg of Dylan Wamsley, the South Lions have a luxury not many other high school senior football teams have — and they certainly revelled in that Tuesday.

Wamsley booted field goals of 35, 36 and 47 yards — and that one would have been good from 55 — as the Lions downed the John Paul II Jaguars 23-6 in a United Way game at TD Waterhouse Stadium. For good measure, Wamsley added a 35-yard touchdown on a pass from Mhyhm Bourdeau (who also hit Mike Webb for a 29-yard TD), coverted both majors and pinned the Jaguars deep with booming punts.

“I put a lot of work in during the offseason. Kicking is pretty much my main thing in football,” Wamsley said, downplaying his contributions as a receiver on offence and a safety on defence.

The Lions (1-1) rebounded from an 18-3 season-opening loss to Aquinas and the clash with the Jaguars was in essence for a playoff spot as both are in the Thompson Divison of the TVRA Central Conference Tier I along with powers Mother Teresa, Catholic Central and Oakridge.

South finishes the regular schedule against those three after next week’s crossover game against Beal, while the Jaguars (0-2) still have CCH and Oakridge to play along with crossover games against Beal and Saunders.

But if they end up tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in their division, the Lions get in with the head-to-head tiebreaking win Tuesday.

“We knew we had to step it up and treat this as a playoff game,” Wamsley said. “We struggled our first few games, our exhibitions and last week against Aquinas, so to get a couple of TDs today was nice to see. We certainly came out with a lot of energy.”

South head coach Mike Stenning acknowledged having Wamsley’s kicking abilities is a huge asset.

“He told me before the game that he felt good from 60 (yards), and you know, I think he was being truthful,” Stenning said. “When you’re setting up your plays, you know you only have to get to a certain point on the field and you can go for the field goal if you have to. I mean, why punt the ball — unless you’re going for field position — when you’ve got a kid with a leg like that? And knowing that there’s always an opportunity from 50 yards out, especially to make it a two-possession game, is huge.”

Stenning was particularly pleased with his defence, which limited the Jaguars to a pair of Zolika Michika field goals.

“We didn’t have the mental mistakes, the defensive breakdowns, we had last week,” he said. “The big challenge for our defence was to eliminate the big play. Last week we didn’t have any of our own, but we certainly gave up a ton. I was OK with giving up three- or four-yard gains, but not the big plays and that’s what we did today.

“Offensively, though, I was a little disappointed in the first half that we couldn’t sustain drives. The guys weren’t staying with their blocks. I challenged them at halftime to do that.”

The Jaguars put themselves in a hole early with two offside penalties that led to the game’s first 10 points.

“I wouldn’t say we were unlucky,” said Jaguars head coach Mark Chortos. “It was a lack of execution. We shot ourselves in the foot and that’s frustrating, because we’re close. We have the talent, but I think it’s one of those things where we have a sense of complacency — ‘We’re here (in Tier I), we’ve made it,’ but now we have to work even harder to stay here.

“We need to play a full four quarters. And South is a tam that’s had our number for the last three years (including last year’s B final, a 20-10 Lions win), so it’s not like we’d have trouble getting up to play them.”

Wildcats 38, Cougars 14

In the morning game, Westminster improved to 2-0 for the first time in more than a decade as they easily handled Montcalm. Saeb Omar ran for scores of four, 60 and three yards while Isaiah Nganga scored on a one-yard run and a 60-yard fumble return and Dan Villalobos added a 20-yard field goal to his five converts.

And while the Wildcats’ two wins have come against arguably the weakest teams in Tier II — Holy Cross was beaten 53-0 last week — the record is still a confidence-booster, said head coach Steve Caslick.

“They’ve been working really hard and it’s nice for them to have a couple of wins under their belts already,” he said. “A .500 record (3-3) is our minimum goal, but who knows, if the guys keep gelling, they might pick up an extra win somewhere.”

The Cougars got a pair of late touchdowns, one on a two-yard run by Ryan Foott (CCT) and the other on a 57-yard pass from Ryan Smith to Mason Floyd on the game’s final play.

Saints 75, Centurions 0 At Strathroy, the Saints got four touchdowns from Jeremy VandeVen and three from Billy Sheeler as they crushed Holy Cross in the battle of next-door neighbours. Brandon Strazella, Nic Kowaluk and Jeff Panzavecchia had the other Strathroy touchdowns.

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