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Saturday, Jun. 23, 2018
Coach Labrosse is feeling the frustration
by Randy Pascal

The frustration of the nature in which the Sudbury Spartans have produced an 0-2 start to the 2017 NFC (Northern Football Conference) boiled over, in spades, with head coach Junior Labrosse this past weekend.

After venting to his players immediately following a 37-10 loss to the Steel City Patriots on Saturday, Labrosse was still not ready, come Sunday afternoon, for the silent treatment. At least, not quite yet.

"My frustration does not come from the defensive side," noted Labrosse. "Right now, the defence is carrying our team. The score in the last two games does not indicate how the defence has played, because they are playing with such bad field position."

Throw in an offense that is struggling to put together even back to back first downs, and one has a defensive unit that is also spending far too much time on the field. "The frustration comes from special teams and certain aspects of the offense," said Labrosse.

Which is to say that not everything is completely dire when it comes to the Spartans offense. "The wide receivers are playing well, (running back) Justin Trottier is a diamond in the rough. My frustration is mostly with the O-Line."

While Labrosse is willing to concede that the loss of the all-star backfield tandem of Scott Smith and Josh Cuomo is certainly being felt, he believes that Trottier is currently not even being given a fighting chance at success.

"It wouldn't have mattered if we had Scotty or Josh in the backfield last night, there's no way they were getting any yards. Their defence is nailing our running backs in the back field. Right now, that's our weak link and they have to step up their game."

"They need to become one cohesive unit, and they're not," Labrosse continued. "They're not communicating on the line to see who they have to block, how they have to make these holes open. And the slotbacks are running great routes, but they're not helping out with the blocking at all."

Labrosse was also not about to let 20 year old quaterback Aaron Campbell off the hook scot-free either. "Aaron has been with the team for three years, and he's been in game situations. At the QB position, you have to have poise and your reads have to come from more than the fact that they are stacking the line," said Labrosse.

"You have to know what the DBs are doing, what the safety is doing, whether you are going to change the routes - none of this stuff is happening right now. It's frustrating, because we have a very good defence."

While veteran defensive lineman Joe Shyminsky was not about to point fingers, his frustration was equally as evident, if perhaps not voiced as much as his coach, immediately following the game.

"This (defence) is a unit that has been around a long time and we know how to play ball," he said. "We've just added more guys that can play with us. It's just unfortunate that tonight we showed up and in the end, they kind of got the better of us."

Though he noted that coach Labrosse is not prone to ranting regularly on the sidelines, Shyminsky had no issue with the show of emotion that was evidenced post-game. "It was needed," said Shyminsky. "It's not just for show, he (Labrosse) always speaks from the heart."

The silver lining to the Spartans situation lies in a potentially very forgiving schedule. "Looking at the schedule, from the very start, we've said that it's a great schedule - but we've just lost two very winnable games," said Shyminsky.

"Oakville definitely. This squad (Steel City) was a little harder, but it was winnable. We still have a great schedule ahead of us to bounce back, and hopefully we can do that."

The Spartans dug themselves an early hole against the Patriots, falling behind 16-0 on a pair of touchdowns from former Spartan Sean Squires and a field goal from Switchshon Spring.

Sudbury's best stretch of football came late in the first half, as Massimo Cimino put the homeside on the board with a field goal with 1:47 to play, while wide receiver Justin Poirier hauled in a touchdown pass from Campbell just forty seconds later.

Any momentum that the Spartans enjoyed evaporated quickly in quarter three, with the visitors stretching their lead thanks to a major from Andrea Bailey, and putting things away for good in the fourth, as TDs from Leeroy Williams and Brandon Isaac nailed the coffin shut.

The Spartans are back at home next Saturday, as the North Bay Bulldogs make their first of two trips to Sudbury, with the Bulldogs coming off a key 17-0 win over the Toronto Raiders.

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