The Terry Fox Ravens shook off some nerves and rare inconsistencies to knock off archrival Centennial 36-12 in senior AAA football action, improving to 3-0 in the regular season.
Flaws aside, the lessons learned can be used in upcoming contests, said co-coach Martin McDonnell.
“We weren’t super-happy with our execution, but we were happy to beat Centennial, that’s for sure,” said McDonnell.
“We just did enough [to win], but from the start it wasn’t what we expected.”
From having just 10 players on the field for the first snap, to poor snaps and offensive execution, the No. 2-ranked Ravens had difficulty getting on track — but they did respond quickly when required.
Centennial grabbed an early 6-0 lead on their first possession when Nick Okamoto kept the ball for a two-yard push.
Fox responded with three majors of their own. Scoring a pair of short-yardage touchdowns, Grade 11 running back Mike West erased the deficit and gave the PoCo squad a solid foundation in which to build upon — but not before the Cents pushed back.
Centennial, which fell to 1-2 with the loss, converted a long kick-off return with J.P. Kalambay's 10-yard inside run to make it 16-12.
But that comeback claim was put on ice when Jericho Mendez marched for three straight short-yardage majors — the final two coming in the second half.
Although no rusher broke the 100-yard barrier, McDonnell said that the squad made due with a committee approach, spreading the carries around as Grade 11 quarterback Connor McKee faced some tough coverage.
“We got refocused in a hurry after (Centennial scored),” said McDonnell. “We got down in a hurry but came back... Maybe it was a bit of nerves, going up against Centennial kind of ups the adrenalin.”
McKee completed eight of 17 pass attempts for 130 yards, while Mendez gained 88 yards on 12 carries.
Centennial's head coach Simon Quinto said that going up against No. 2-ranked Fox was a formidable challenge, but was pleased with his team's level of compete until the second half.
"We knew we would have it tough against the No. 2-ranked (Ravens) and we needed to have four quarters of effort to beat them," said Quinto. "Although we scored first and made it a game in the first two quarters, (Fox) continued to play hard while we started to miss our assignments and make mental errors."
He credited the play of tackle Tyler Bruce and Jordan Kennedy for leading a fairly solid stand.
With St. Thomas More coming to Percy Perry Stadium on Friday (7 p.m. kickoff), Fox can ill-afford a repeat of the scrambly start, MacDonnell noted.
“These were uncharacteristic errors by and large, but we have to execute like we can because STM is a very good team.”
The Centaurs, meanwhile, venture to Abbotsford to play W.J. Mouat on Friday.
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