Game PREVIEW: CFC10 Football North Clarkson ‘hates to lose,’ faces St. Joes in North Bowl

North Bowl – Football North Clarkson vs. Football North St. Joes

First, there was CFC10 No.1 Football North Clarkson, and then, there was the expansion program, CFC10 No. 4 Football North St. Joes. Now, the two will duke it out in a one-shot, winner-take-all game in Ottawa with bragging rights on the line.

The North Bowl will be played on Saturday, November 4, at 4pm at Carleton University’s MNP Park.

If any team understands the struggles of St. Joes, it’s second-year program Clarkson. “I think St. Joes has done a good job, right, it’s tough, your first year. Until now, they don’t know. Parents don’t know. Players don’t know. You may think it’s (American football) is the same, but until you get there and play, it’s a different beast,” Larry Jusdanis, the head coach of Clarkson, said.

But, once the game starts, the pleasantries will be put on hold. This Clarkson team isn’t driving five hours to Ottawa to play a half-hearted game. “Obviously we want to win,” Jusdanis said. “This team hates to lose. I can tell you that for sure.”

The game plan is simple: “Play our game, play smart, don’t fall behind like we have done in previous games. Just play the way they are supposed to play, like they did last week, and they will be fine,” Jusdanis said.

Football North Clarkson’s offense takes on the McDowell Trojans in a 35-28 win on Sept. 15, 2017. By Colinda Ravlic.

As for the individual pieces of the overall puzzle, Jusdanis said that defensive end Justin Sambu (#22) and defensive lineman Kail Dava (#99) are tough to handle, with Sambu being a “matchup nightmare.” He expects St. Joes to have a difficult time versus them as have other teams.

Clarkson enters the North Bowl with a 3-6 record. In their second game, they handed the Cleveland Heights Tigers (#137 in Ohio) a 31-6 beatdown. Two weeks later, they squeaked out the win in a close game versus the McDowell Trojans (#73 in Pennsylvania), winning 35-28. Their last win wouldn’t come until last weekend where they won 40-33 over the Warren Harding Raiders (#198 in Ohio).

The team was also pitted against some of the top schools in the country, let alone their respective states. They started their season versus the now 8-2 Pickerington North Panthers (#10 in Ohio, #91 in the nation). By week eight, they had competed against the 9-1 St. Ignatius Wildcats (#2 in Ohio, #18 in the nation) and the 9-1 St. Xavier Bombers (#1 in Ohio, #12 in the nation). In week nine, the team dropped a heartbreaker to the Cheshire Academy Cats (#2 in prep school rankings) where they failed to complete the comeback, losing 28-26.

“I know the kids played their hearts out,” Jusdanis said. “There is a lot of good talent on our football team. You can tell they’re a great football team.”

While Clarkson has only been together for two years, these American high school teams have been playing together for four to six years. “That is the difference. You can just see it. But hey, they (Clarkson) were successful. Three of our kids are getting NCAA scholarships, so, it’s their thoughts and dreams; it’s the process, what you do it for,” Jusdanis added.

CFC100 Receiver Clark Barnes (#9) has an offer from Liberty University, CFC100 receiver Nick Mardner (#1) has one from the University of Maine and Sambu received one from Missouri.

Football North Clarkson’s receiver Nick Mardner (#1) lines up on the line of scrimmage vs. the Wayne Warriors on Sept. 8, 2017. By Lisa Presley-Sedore

Mardner made several highlight-reel worthy catches during the season. Against Pickering North and McDowell, he had touchdown catches that spanned over 70 yards. Versus the Lorain Titans (#76 in the state) he was responsible for all three of the team’s touchdowns in a 42-21 loss. He had touchdowns in almost every game of the season, and two against McDowell.

Not to be outdone, Barnes was also a favourite target for quarterback Nick DeJesus (#5). He scored two touchdowns against Cleveland Heights and Warren Harding, with touchdowns against St. Xavier and Cheshire as well.

Along with their three NCAA-bound players, there are many other names that turned heads all season. “Running back Brendon Barrow (#8), who is (a) young, freshman tailback, he has played outstanding,” Jusdanis said. “CFC100 Kyle Hergel (#60), our o-lineman is phenomenal. I think defensive back Kevin Nsabua (#4) too did a great job in the backend.” He cited the DeJesus as well.

“A lot of kids stepped up during games,” Jusdanis added. “Every game I could tell you any different person, which is great to see. What is kind of neat is the team is young. It is very junior. It is a stacked junior class, what we call it for next year. It looks promising.”

With one more game on the horizon, the team is focused on the now. Next season doesn’t begin until this one ends. “We want to play a good game. Our team wants to come out and play a mistake-free football game, go from the first minute to the end. I don’t know if we have had that game yet where we have done that. We have had halves where we play those halves our game, so, I would like to see us play the whole game and see what really happens,” Jusdanis said.

The North Bowl will be a reunion of sorts for the coaching staff. Jusdanis was coached by St. Joes defensive coordinator, Danny Laramee. “We all know each other… there are a lot of alumni there, so there will be a little grudge there,” Jusdanis said. “It’s what you want it to be. We all want to win the football game and ultimately our players stay healthy and have a good time after the game.”

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