Junior Red Knights Advance to City Final By Blanking Richview Saints
By Sam Laskaris
Despite being a defensive end, John Beaudoin admitted that yes, he had dreamt about scoring the winning touchdown in a football game.
Well, Beaudoin’s dream became a reality on Thursday afternoon as he scored the opening TD following a blocked punt in the Northern Red Knights 27-0 victory over the Richview Saints in a Toronto high school junior semi-final game.
Beaudoin’s major was the only score in the opening half of the contest staged at Esther Shiner Stadium.
With the victory, the Red Knights qualified for next Thursday’s city championship at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.
Northern will square off against the Leaside Lancers in the city final, scheduled for 10 a.m. Leaside advanced by downing the Etobicoke Rams 16-12 in the other semi-final, also staged Thursday at Esther Shiner Stadium.
Beaudoin’s major score came after the Red Knights’ defence forced the Saints to kick from deep in their own zone following their opening drive.
“It was a bad snap,” Beaudoin said, explaining how he ended up scoring a TD. “I got there. (The kicker) hesitated and I blocked the punt. And then it just went backwards and I’m like nobody is around. I fall on it and it’s a touchdown.”
Beaudoin was understandably thrilled with his own TD. And then he was equally as excited when Red Knights’ defensive tackle Ben Best scored his second touchdown of the season.
Best took a direct snap from the Saints’ two-yard line and drove his way into the end zone to give his side a 12-0 lead in the third quarter.
“The fact that two linemen scored a touchdown in the game is amazing,” Beaudoin said.
The Red Knights had soundly trounced Richview 60-6 in their regular season matchup two weeks earlier.
But Thursday’s tilt was not exactly a cakewalk.
“This game was stressful,” Beaudoin said. “It was challenging. Richview came ready to play. They really shut down our offence in the first half. They just played a lot tougher than when we played them in the regular season.”
And though they steamrolled over their opponents in regular season action compiling a perfect 5-0 record, the Red Knights were hardly in a mood to celebrate by halftime when they held a slim 6-0 lead.
“I was a little worried because we couldn’t get anything going on offence,” Beaudoin said. “And our defence was kind of allowing a lot of things to happen. We were kind of getting run through. We were allowing passes. But in the second half we got better, we got tougher, we hit harder and we just dominated in the second half.”
Northern scored its first offensive TD on Thursday when quarterback Riley Chalmers connected on a 10-yard pass with Miguel Collado, who also had a handful of other highlight reel catches in the game.
Northern’s final TD came when Logan Michand intercepted a Saints’ pass and scampered 29 yards for a pick six.
Jackson Irvine then caught a pass for a two-point convert. And Red Knights’ kicker Johnny Musson rounded out the scoring with a single off the ensuing kickoff.
Michand was rather pumped following his interception.
“It felt good,” he said. “I felt like I iced the game so that felt nice.”
Michand also knew he had to be rather tame following his TD.
“I couldn’t celly,” he said. “I didn’t want to get a flag.”
The Red Knights played the match without four of their starters on defence, who were all attending a hockey tournament in the U.S.
Northern offensive star Will Sievert also sat out the game, primarily as a precaution, as he recovers from an upper-body injury.
Michand knew the Saints would perform better on Thursday than they did in their regular season encounter versus the Red Knights.
“We knew they had a lot of guys missing last game so we talked about it before the game,” he said. “We watched film. And we knew we were missing a lot of guys. We knew it would be a lot closer and it would be a tougher battle. So we were confident but we weren’t cocky.”
Northern head coach John Lombardi said it was also obvious his charges were nervous participating in their first playoff game this season.
Despite the fact they were trailing by half a dozen points at the half, Lombardi also said he felt the Saints were more physical than his players were in the first two quarters.
“But our kids responded when we asked them to,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi also felt a key moment in the match was Beaudoin’s TD.
“The blocked kick in the first quarter to score was massive for us just because of our nerves,” he said.