#CFC50 game preview (ONT): Here we go again. No. 6 Cardinal Newman take on No.12 St. Thomas More

Feature Photos Courtesy of Gerry Graham/HWCDSB and Barry Gray

Well it’s that time of year again. And yes, that is deja vu you’re experiencing. Deep into another season with top spot in the Hamilton Catholic League up for grabs, who else would it be other than No.6 Cardinal Newman and No. 12 St. Thomas More going toe-to-toe in this week’s #CFC50 game of the week.

These two always find a way to bring the best out of each other, and a look back at their last meeting provides a tiny glimpse into the world of this ultra-competitive rivalry.

To set the scene – the venue is Tim Hortons Field, it’s the city finals, and after the first two quarters everybody is in disbelief. Not because they’re witnessing an instant classic, although that would change by the end of the night, but because St. Thomas More was imposing their will all over the as they built up a 31-1 lead.

Now in most cases that’s a game over situation, but Newman wasn’t going to go out like that – not against “them”. To keep a long story short, the Cardinals stormed back in the second half with 34 unanswered points to prove to the rest of Hamilton once again, that football is just sort of their thing, and even when you think you’ve got them – you don’t.

cn-2015-city-final-gord-bowes

While that is a fun story and definitely one of the craziest finals in history, you’d be hard pressed to get either coach to indulge in any rivalry talk. There is too much respect for one another as programs, as well as for the rest of their league,

“The Hamilton Catholic League has long been one of the most competitive and challenging in the province. Every week we must be well prepared and never take any opponent lightly.” explains St. Thomas More Head Coach, Claudio Silvestri. “We have a monumental task ahead of us as Newman is always a strong team to prepare for. They are well coached and very talented.”

Maybe the most talented of all is Newman’s running back Nicholas Petermann. Remember that one kid on the other team who you never wanted to find yourself with in open space? Well that kid is Petermann. With a scary combo of speed and power, he is liable to make defenders look silly on any play, but more importantly he opens up the rest of playbook so others can make an impact. That philosophy flows over to the defensive side, where the Cardinals’ look to keep their opponents guessing at all times says Head Coach Anthony Macaluso,

“Our strength is the ability to be dynamic and adaptable in many different situations. On offence and defence we use a variety of schemes, personnel, and plays. We have a really balanced approach on offence and defence, but we’ve been led by running back Nick Petermann, quarterback Jordan Rimac and our entire defensive line.”

Newman’s defence will need be all of the above in order to stop an abnormally productive offence that averages 47.8 points per game. And remember that kid Petermann we talked about? Well St. Thomas More have a star running back of their own in #CFC100 Michael Chris-Ike, who most players know better by the back of his helmet than his smile. Michael-Ike is the engine, but he certainly doesn’t do it all his own with plenty of help from quarterback Zach Oboardi, and an offensive line that saw every member return from last year’s squad. Although the Cardinals have allowed just 14 points all season, Macaluso knows his boys will need to cover every square inch of the field in order to be successful this week,

“They rely heavily on their run game and Michael Chris-Ike, which sets up their pass game. Having their transfer quarterback now eligible definitely expands their passing game, making them a well-balanced team.”

Of course this one doesn’t mean as much as the battles that occur in late November, but make no mistake these teams want to win. The difference between the good and the great comes down to philosophy, and Silvestri has tried to zone in on one simple phrase that carries a lot weight considering how things played out the last time these two met,

“Our philosophy all year and through our off season has been ‘Finish.’ We try to ingrain that into our team everyday at practice. This week is no different.”

If you had to try and choose a winner between these two Goliaths, I’d advise you to save your time and just enjoy what should be an entertaining game of football. Newman perhaps gets the slight nod, but led by linebackers Jake Baker and Ryan Leder, the Knights are no joke having allowed just three points on defence all year. One thing I can guarantee you, however, is that winning in the name of the game when it comes to these two programs, and both teams will leave everything they’ve got out on the field,

“We have one of the toughest leagues to play in so every week presents a different challenge, but for the past few years it has been us and STM in the end.” Macaluso explains. “That being said, we don’t put any more focus into this game than we do every other one because we want to win every game we play. We definitely want to win this one, but for us the goal is to win in the playoffs.”

St. Thomas More will be the site as the action is set to kickoff on Friday, October 28th at 1:00pm.

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