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Rayside-Balfour Canadians
Joe MacDonald Youth Football League
Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017
Bears repeat as junior football champs
2017-10-30
by Randy Pascal

The big play ability of running back Ben Larsen and a suffocating defense that allowed the Lively Hawks precious little room to breathe were more than enough to lead the St Benedict Bears to a second straight SDSSAA Junior Football title Monday at James Jerome.

Larsen scored on runs of 81 and 32 yards in the first half, and then hauled in a 30 yard TD pass from quarterback Eric Huneault with just 3:11 to play as the Bears blanked the Hawks 21-0.

Despite the Larsen majors in quarters one and two, both of which ironically came with exactly 1:27 showing on the clock, the contest remained relatively back and forth as the Lively defense recorded three interceptions, including a pair from Max Simpson.

The Bears countered with some big plays of their own - a big sack in the first quarter from Jonah Sacchetto, a late interception from Zack Primeau - full measure for their 14-0 lead at the half.

Though the likes of Ben Cacciotti and Luca Mastroianni were clearly key on defense, with Austin Mader adding a critical open field tackle on fourth down as well, St Benedict coach Junior Labrosse was quick to spread the praise right across the roster.

"When you make a game plan, you're hoping that the guys buy into it," said Labrosse. "You know what, they did. We had a hard week of practice, watched tons of film, but we know (Lively coach) Reggie (Bonin) always has something up his sleeve."

"We knew they were going to come up with schemes to stop our run, to stop Larsen. We knew that we had to be patient, that was the biggest key." But try as they might, the Hawks simply could not contain the talented playmaker for an entire 48 minutes of football.

"I look for a gap, really," suggested Larsen. "I just want the linemen to push the guys out of the way, and I'll try and do what I can." A go to athlete with both the 2016 and 2017 championship teams, Larsen noted the benefit of the experience of last fall, unafraid of looking for help when it comes to internal team motivation.

"I feel more like a captain, more like a leader," he said. "But when it comes to getting everyone going, everybody takes part in that. Everyone has to get everyone else hyped." The Bears will be back in action at home on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., playing host to the NOSSA final.

St Benedict dropped a 43-15 decision to the Korah Colts last year, with Larsen and Huneault accounting for the TDs for the local reps. "There's a lot of talent and we've just got to focus this week and get it done," said Larsen, looking forward to the Northern Ontario final.

Science North
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