St. Thomas More rallies to win junior football crown
By Mark Newman, News Staff
Quarterback Mitchell Phillips ran for three second half touchdowns to lead the St. Thomas More Knights to a 21-14 comeback win over the Bishop Tonnos Titans in the Hamilton Catholic high school junior football championship.
The game was played at McMaster University’s Ron Joyce Stadium on Nov 22.
Tonnos took a 14-0 lead into half time.
Joseph Radojewski scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter and Marco Aref, who amassed 110 yards on the ground, added another major on a two-yard run in the second quarter.
Radojewski kicked both converts.
Both BT scores came off long, time-consuming drives.
Phillips, who had been held in check by the Tonnos defence for most of the first half, got rolling in the second half.
He ran right for a 24-yard touchdown about five minutes into the third quarter.
But, the key to the STM comeback occurred a few seconds later when Paul Swierkosz perfectly executed an on-side kick.
The More kicker lobbed the ball 10-yards down the middle of the field where it was recovered by STM’s Vinny DiDiomede
About three minutes later, Phillips ran 35 yards for a TD
“It was definitely a turning point,” said Swierkosz. “We recovered the ball and we scored right off of it.”
More head coach Peter Luvisa noted the junior Knights added the on-side kick to their playbook about a week or two before the game.
“We did it straight down the middle,” Luvisa said. “Not too many people would try it and we thought we’d go for it.”
Phillips capped his big afternoon with a 14-yard run touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and the More defence was able to keep the Titan offence from moving the ball late in the game.
After a flat first half, Phillips said the Knights were ready to play some football in the second.
“Our coach gave us a talk, he got us a lot more motivated, he told us how hard we worked this whole season and we came through,” said Phillips, who finished the game with 202 yards on 24 carries.
“I thought we played really, really well in the first half,” said Tonnos head coach Sean McPhee. “We knew it wasn’t over and we told them that at halftime.”
McPhee also paid tribute to the athleticism of the More quarterback.
“Number 10 (Mitchell Phillips) is something else,” McPhee said. “We did everything we could to stop him and we couldn’t. Our kids have to feel proud the way they played.”