Forest Hill Falcons’ 42-7 loss to defending champion Richview Saints on Oct. 24 was a story of contrasts.
One of the city’s best in junior football again this year, Richview moved to only two wins away from a second straight city title, moving on to face local rival Etobicoke Rams in a Nov. 7 semifinals tilt. Forest Hill finished the season 0–5.
Still, the Falcons’ spirit and determination remained high even in being routed in this their season finale.
With the defense allowing only six points in the second half, there were smiles all along the Forest Hill sideline. They were happy to keep pace with the defending champions.
Berkay Furat, who was getting to his tackles and putting a stop to Richview’s drives in that second half, spoke afterward about a young team that is still learning.
“We made some big stops, big hits, and I couldn’t have asked for a better second half,” he said. “Most teams would be down because the score was like 36–0 in the first, but we’re just not that kind of team.
“We just go out there and play our best.”
Forest Hill fielded a solid running game, anchored by running back Xavier Bailey, that kept looking for holes up the middle. Quarterback Simon Mancuso tried to use his feet to move the pocket and gain extra yards from a defense guessing what he would do with the ball.
But the Saints opened the scoring on the first play, with a touchdown on the kickoff return. They kept the Falcons off the scoreboard in the first half while racking up a 36–0 score, led by the evasive running of Jamoy Thompson and the passing attack from quarterback Michael Capizzano.
“We wanted to come out and win, but we also want to get as many players out on the field so we can get everyone to play,” Capizzano said after the game. “And we wanted to make sure we kept the plays crisp and not ruin any plays.”
Where the Saints used the game to refine the team’s technique and strategy for the playoffs, the Falcons played for pride. Punt returner Ethan Levy was gaining massive yardage on special teams, and the defensive line, including Kayjuan Williams and Iain Kaufman-O’Keefe, were putting the hurt on Saints runners.
The Falcons had their biggest breakthrough in the third quarter. On their first possession, their running game sparked to life.
Mancuso and Williams ran up the middle effectively, gaining several first downs. With the Saints on their heels, and a first down deep in their territory, Mancuso sneaked a pass up the left slot to Bailey, putting Forest Hill on the board.
Bailey, who scored his first touchdown of the season, was excited to have his number called.
“It felt really nice,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get it but I was like, ‘If I catch the ball, just drive for the touchdown.’
“The slot receivers were running deep, while the outside receivers ran a hitch [short and outside]. I ran deep and managed to get the ball and scored.”
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