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Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
Savouring a very nice two year run
2018-11-14
by Randy Pascal

For both those who now call it a career, and those who are left to carry the torch, a two year run as city football champions has created memories of a lifetime for memories of the Lively Hawks.

And while a 52-23 loss to the Korah Colts in a NOSSA semi-final encounter in Sault Ste Marie earlier this month was not the final chapter they would have liked to see scripted, a near flawless campaign locally, capped off by a second straight SDSSAA title victory over the St Benedict Bears (21-7), created a very nice goodbye gift for those who are done.

"Last year, we were kind of in that wildcard spot," recalled all-star lineman Giovanni Bagnarol. "We were 4-1, maybe 5-1 when the playoffs came around. This year, we were undefeated going into the playoffs, so the energy in the room was a little bit different."

"Other than that, it was just a matter of coming to practice, work hard, make sure your fundamentals are good." The Bears, for their part, rode the motivational story-line of the underdog crew that wasn't provided enough respect, selected as the fourth best pre-season entry despite having made it to the final last fall.

And while it is seldom easy, Lively found a way to still bring their best to the field, never succumbing to over-confidence. "It was very easy to get hyped up because we have some guys on the team that are very good motivators," suggested Bagnarol.

"You have our coach, coach (Reg) Bonin, who is a really, really good motivator. Our coaching staff - Dan, Jordan, Brett McKnight - they are all crazy about getting us motivated for games. Nick Rideout is a great motivator. A lot of the grade 12s, the grade 13s. Even the grade 11s took a lot of initiative making sure we were into the game, ready to go."

There was also the matter of a very stiff regular season test against the St Benedict representatives. "They had a lot of talk about picking us apart with their passes," said defensive end Alex Gallant. "I thought we shut them down pretty good."

"I thought we brought a lot of pressure, which helped a lot. We've always been known for having a really good defence, which only makes us want to be better every time we play. We just didn't want to get too cocky."

While a Lively Hawks lineup that does not featuure Bagnarol or Gallant or Rideout next year is welcome news to the rest of the league, there remains a solid returning core in Walden, including linebacker Cole Kennedy, who progressed to making his presence felt at several key moments of each and every game that he played.

"In junior, last year, I did not have as much impact as this year, but I was kind of still there," said the 16 year old grade 11 first year senior. "The summer ball, playing with the Glads, helped me improve the most. I noticed it on my downhill running. I'm an aggressive player and I hit the hole that I am supposed to hit. I like it when they run the ball, because I like hitting the holes the same time that they do."

The Hawks weren't sure they would even have Kennedy at their disposal this fall, the multi-sport talent first opting to join the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves before changing his mind, early in September, in order to fit high school football into his busy schedule.

"I like both hockey and football equally, both are the same for me," he said. "This year, I just wasn't feeling up to playing that level of hockey. Being in my hometown, doing what I love to do, had a lot of appeal."

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