The St. Thomas More Knights were prepared, but the Mount Douglas Rams were ready.
The Island team ended the No. 3-ranked Knights’ AAA football season in surprising fashion, with a 43-21 blasting last Friday at Burnaby Lake West complex.
And while the visitors had entered the playoffs as an honourable mention in the latest provincial poll, in fact they had been trending upward over the previous weeks with improved health to their standouts.
Led by star quarterback Gideone Kremler, who ran for 188 yards and three majors, the Rams erased a 7-6 deficit with a pair of touchdowns in the span of four minutes midway through the first half.
One of those scores came after a midfield punt attempt early in the second quarter became a turnover that the visitors recovered on STM’s 30-yard line. A few minutes later, the Rams upped its lead to 22-7 and didn’t look back.
While the Knights’ Dario Ciccone made it 22-14 before halftime, the Rams used another turnover – this time an interception that turned into a 31-yard major – to pull away.
“We needed to play an error-free game (against Mt. Doug), and we didn’t,” noted STM coach Steve. De Lazzari. “We gave it a shot – we came into the season unranked and won some big games.”
Mt. Doug accumulated 398 yards rushing, while the defence harassed Ciccone to the point where he posted a rare sub-500 completion rate – connecting on 11 of 25 pass attempts for 140 yards.
“Mt. Doug is a team that’s known for taking it to another level in the playoffs and we weren’t able to match that,” said DeLazzari.
And while the Knights were considered the favourite in the matchup, the coaches put it in perspective after the game.
“(Co-head coach Joe Adams) told the boys after the game that there’s no shame in our season. We came into the season unranked and we’re the smallest (by population) football school in the province and we were up against a 2,000-student school,” said DeLazzari.
The turnover won’t be huge for next year – although key players like lineman Sam Steele, running back Vasco Repole and Ciccone will graduate – so next year’s roster should be fine, remarked the coach.
“We’re really excited about the future for this group,” said DeLazzari. “We have some skill and size returning and a number of starters.”