#CFC50 Game of the week (ONT): No. 19 Nelson square off against No. 29 Holy Trinity with first place in the HSAA on the line

There are few things better in life than rivalry week, where for some unexplainable reason, everything means just a little bit more. You run harder at practice, shut off your cell phone earlier the night before the game, listen to your pre-game music a little louder than usual – you believe every tiny detail could make the difference.

Heading into this week’s marquee matchup between the No 19. Nelson Lords and No 29. Holy Trinity Titans, it’s safe to say it’ll be a playoff type atmosphere when these two rivals square off for first place in the standings. It just so happens that the last time these two programs met, it was in the HSAA playoffs, where Nelson battled their way to a 17-0 victory to advance to the league finals. While there obviously is not as much on the line this time around, Nelson’s Head Coach Jeff Brock says that he doesn’t need to remind his team of the implications this game might have come late November,

“I don’t have to say too much with this group. They understand the expectations we have for them, and they know what is at stake.”

So far his trust has paid off, with the Lords sitting pretty after securing their fifth straight win last week over T. A. Blakelock. Just one look at their schedule – which displays scorelines of 56-0, 58-6, 49-0, 44-0 – and it’s not hard to tell why Nelson is considered one of the best programs in the nation. With that being said, the flip side of those lopsided scores is that the Lords have yet to face any real adversity, a trend that Brock expects to change this week versus the undefeated Titans,

“Without having too much competition to this point, we seem to be strong everywhere. We should see against a quality Holy Trinity team how we stack up.” Brock explains. “Our practices are quite competitive, and hopefully will help us prepare. Also, many of our starters returned from last year’s team that were in tight games, and our incoming juniors also played tough games en route to being Metro Bowl finalists.”

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Holy Trinity find themselves in the same boat as their counterparts after dominating every opponent on their schedule so far in 2016. To say they’ve made it look easy may be an understatement, with their slimmest margin of victory sitting at a whopping 31 points, but it is a testament to their hard work in every facet which makes them such a dangerous team come game day,

“Holy Trinity is a well coached team.” Brock says. “They are very athletic at the skill positions, and their quarterback is a playmaker, so we will be focusing on minimizing the explosiveness they have on offence and in the return game.”

Said playmaker under centre would be Kurtis Rourke, who has continued his family’s legacy by leading the Titans to a flawless 4-0 record to start the season. Much of his success has hinged on a reliable group of playmakers out wide, including the three headed monster of Tevin Doyley, Lex Jeffrey and Blaze Cervocec. While it’s easy to point to the guys who are scoring points as the reason for their success, Holy Trinity Head Coach Joe Mascato says that there are players at every position making a difference, whether it shows up on the scoresheet or not,

“Our offensive line consisting of Stuart Allan, Devan Dhindsa, Luka D’Amico, Luka Vulecevic, and Quintin Garcia have improved every week, they have done a great job in both run blocking and pass protection.” praises Mascato. “Some other unsung players that deserve credit for our team’s success, are Justice Vasilakos-McRae who plays both fullback and linebacker, outside linebacker Kristian Milford, as well as triple threat Damian Lee who plays running back, defensive back and takes care of kicking duties.”

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Holy Trinity will need every cog in the wheel to hold strong taking on a potent offence that features an unordinary amount of depth at the skills positions. While some teams may find a way to shutdown one of the Lords’ weapons, it’s near impossible to stop them all, and throughout the weeks they have all taken their turn lighting up the scoreboard. Will Corby scored three touchdowns versus Oakville Trafalgar, receiver Michael Lehmann scored four versus M. M. Robinson, while Jake Mitchell found the end zone three times last week – that right there is the definition of a headache for any defensive coordinator. Add in the fact that their offence will need to keep pace going up against a stingy defence led by linebacker Mitchell Unwin, the Titans’ understand they will need to be firing on all cylinders if they want to walk away with victorious,

“Nelson is a talented football team with great depth.” Mascato explains. “They play tough defense and have a balanced offensive attack. Our focus in preparing for this game is for us to play to the best of our ability. We have studied our opponent, and have focused on preparing to play sound fundamental football.”

While it’s easy to look to the past as an indicator of future events, the unique thing about sports is that every game develops it’s own storyline, and no two are ever the same. Although the scales tip slightly in favour of Nelson, make no mistake Holy Trinity will be prepared and well rested coming off a bye – which could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, or work against them if things unravel early.

But despite all the questions and uncertainties, the message Mascato has for his team heading into this one is simple, and if his players follow through, there is no reason why they can’t come out on top,

“The message to our team is the same every week. We are constantly talking to our players about studying our opponent, playing tough team oriented football, and focusing on playing to the best of our ability.”

The action is set to kick-off at 3:30pm on Wednesday, October 19th.

 

 

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