GOTW ON: CFC25 No. 17 Waterford take on Delhi in the Pumpkin Bowl

We head to Norfolk County for our game of the week that features the CFC25 No. 17 Waterford Wolves taking on the unranked Delhi Raiders in the annual Pumpkin Bowl.

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Football thrives on tradition, and the Pumpkin Bowl is a marquee event in the region each year that draws fans and alumni for an afternoon of civic pride during the Waterford Pumpkinfest. Last season they took on the Simcoe Sabres in a Norfolk Bowl rematch, but this year we may be getting a preview instead with Delhi entering tied atop the standings at 4-0. They’re also coming off a massive 42-7 win over Simcoe in the annual Mud Jug rivalry game with over 1000 fans in attendance, so they’ll be full of confidence and prepared for the festival like atmosphere on Saturday afternoon.

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CFC Prospect Game participant CFC100 Jaxson Zurby says the team isn’t going to shy away from the pressure now, or down the road in the playoffs,

“My personal goals are tied with the team goals; we want to win a Norfolk Championship. It’s our Head Coach Dave Leatherland’s 20th year with the team, and we are all motivated to bring one home for him – but Waterford is first. This game has huge implications like home field advantage, first place in our league, and a possible small school CFC rating.”

Zurby lined up at receiver for the CFC Prospect Game, but commands the Raiders’ offence under centre, and also takes care of the kicking duties. He’s been working alongside Jacob Schooley in the backfield, who’s also participated at multiple CFC Combines, and is always one of the most athletic prospects around clocking impressive numbers across every drill. On the field, his low centre of gravity at 5’8″, 175lbs makes him a load to handle, and he’s just one of the many weapons Waterford will need to defuse. Last week their talent was on full display with Liam McCormack finding the end zone twice, while Adam Leatherland added a major alongside Schooley to help reclaim the Mud Jug after a two year hiatus.

They’ll now shift their attention to dethroning the defending champions, and Zurby says they haven’t forgotten the final chapter from last season,

“For those who are unfamiliar with our program we have a balanced offence and a relentless defence. Our three main points of focus are keeping up the level of intensity at practice, focussing on fundamentals and practicing to perfection, and keeping in mind Waterford convincingly knocked us out of the playoffs last year.”

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It’ll be another long day if they can’t find a way to stop the tandem of Taye Lovell and Connor Walsh on offence for Waterford. Lovell has been a star on both sides of the ball this season, including an incredible performance against Simcoe where he scored the Wolves’ only two touchdowns, and a made a game saving tackle in the dying moments to help secure a 13-7 victory. Another name to watch in the defensive trenches will be Alex Bannister, who helped lead the way the following week in their 10-0 shutout over Holy Trinity. The defence have been able to get the job done so far, but they likely haven’t faced a potent attack that Delhi has to offer, and the intensity will be at an all-time high with home field advantage in the playoffs hanging in the balance.

Lovell says Waterford is prepared to defend their turf in front of the home crowd,

“The three big things I’m focusing on for this week is stopping Delhi’s run game, keeping the game at our pace and last but not least focus and execution. At Waterford we have a strong run game, on defence we work hard in coverage and tackling, then our secondary is strong as well. I except big things from them, and to perform at the highest levels they can.”

Kickoff is set for Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm in Waterford.

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