Catholic senior football final slated for McMaster on Thursday
The Hamilton Catholic school senior football final has a David against Goliath feel to it.
Defending league champion St. Thomas More Knights take on the Cardinal Newman Cardinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at McMaster University.
It’s the first time in several years that the two schools have met in the post season.
Newman beat More 17-10 early in the regular season.
Several starters on the 5-1 More squad are nursing injuries and head coach Claudio Silvestri said it will be a game time decision as to whether they play.
The walking wounded includes running back Kyle Shallow who has been out for most of the season, first with a knee injury and then a pulled hamstring.
More running back John Ngeleka is nursing a three-week old ankle sprain and saw only spot duty in last Friday’s 17-0 semi-final win over Bishop Ryan and middle linebacker Mark Burns returned to the line-up last week after missing four weeks with a strained knee.
The 6-0 Cardinals, who beat Bishop Tonnos 37-7 in semi-final action, are not only healthy, but have quite probably the biggest offensive line of any high school in the Hamilton area.
Among the hogs up front is guard Josh Lolli who stands six-foot four and weighs closer to 400 pounds than 300 pounds.
Lolli, who also toils on the defensive line, drew a lot of accolades and second looks for his play this past summer with the Hamilton Ironmen.
The Cardinals also have agile quarterback Alex Hill, another Ironmen product, who is in his final year at the Stoney Creek school and would like nothing more than to help win their first senior football title since 2009.
Newman head coach Gord Chariot said the team isn’t thinking about an unbeaten season, adding his troops continue to get better with each game.
“We still haven’t peaked yet,” said Chariot. “We have a good offensive line and that’s helped our run game enormously.”
Silvestri said all the injuries this season has forced the Knights to become a better overall squad and thanks to a roster with a depth of talent, they have not had to rely on one or two players.
He noted the Knights defence has not been scored on in the playoffs and they plan on some “creative blitzing” to get around the big Newman offensive line.
Offensively, Grade 12 student C.J. Paduano will start at quarterback.
“CJ’s doing a good job delivering the ball,” Silvestri said.
And don’t be surprised if Paduano hands the ball off frequently to Mike Brown, who has scored seven touchdowns in the playoffs.
“The guy’s been on fire,” Silvestri said.
Hamilton Catholic high school junior football semi-final playoff action on Thursday sees St. Thomas More taking on Bishop Ryan at 3 p.m. and More facing Cathedral at 5 p.m.
Both games are at Ivor Wynne Stadium