Lancers win running away

[attach]913[/attach]Not the wind, rain or mud could stop the Leaside Lancers senior football squad from beating the North Toronto Norsemen 35-7 in the South Region quarterfinals Oct. 23.

“We knew it was going to be sloppy today and we knew it was going to be important if we wanted to run the ball effectively,” said Leaside head coach Jim Georgiadis.

The Lancers managed to establish their dominant running game early. On the first drive of the game, the Lancers moved the ball down the field with relative ease.

“We wanted to protect the football and control the play,” Georgiadis said. “We figured if we could win the field position battle and cut down on turnovers, we would come out victorious.”

Leaside quarterback Mike Kanopoulos completed a 10-yard pass to wide-receiver Stephen Edwards, helping set up a 10-yard scamper for the game’s first touchdown.

In the second quarter, Leaside’s defence contributed with a touchdown as Connor Ryan picked off an errant Norsemen pass from QB Tom Knee for a 14-0 lead.

But the real blow came when Kanopoulos called his own number 60 yards from the end zone. He eluded several North Toronto defenders to increase his team’s lead to 21-0.

“It was the weather, unfortunately,” said Norsemen head coach Shawn Hood. “We worked all week long and really wanted to come out passing.

“When the wind and rain started blowing just before the game, it made it really difficult for us to get the ball in the air.”

The Norsemen tried to counter the adverse conditions by making adjustments throughout the game, but to no avail.

“We were having a tough time running up the middle,” Hood said. “They have some big guys on the defensive line. We tried to go with some misdirection and it started to work near the end of the game.

“The mud made it really hard to run the sweeps and it really limited the type of offence we like to run.”

Ryan scored his second touchdown of the game for Leaside when on the opening play of the second half he returned a kickoff 80 yards.

In the last two minutes of the game, North Toronto wide-receiver Emmanuel Athanassakos hauled in a Knee pass from 35 yards out for the game’s final six points.

After the game, Georgiadis credited his offensive line for creating running opportunities. Twice during the game, their protection allowed Kanopoulos to gain 40-plus yards rushing.

“I thought we blocked very, very well, which allowed us to do the things offensively we wanted to do today,” Georgiadis said.

Next week, the Lancers will prepare for the East York Goliaths in the South Regional semi-final. Georgiadis said he hopes his team can come out on the right side of the scoresheet.

“They are a tough team and our rival team,” he says. “It is always a game with a lot of tradition and even though we got the better of them this year, we know they will be ready for us this time around.”

Though the Norsemen lost, their season will continue.

After the game Hood told his players they need to regroup for their next opponent.

Hood added he thought his team’s final touchdown will go a long way in boosting the team’s confidence.

“It has been a long time since we have been in the end zone,” he said. “We had a tough game last week against Northern and by the looks of the guys’ faces, we really needed that going into next week.”