The Sault Sabercats are beginning to believe.
After a week one loss, the junior varsity Sabercats have won three straight, including a 38-8 victory over the Sudbury Gladiators on Saturday afternoon at Superior Heights in Ontario Football Conference action.
“We tell them after every game that we feel they’re a championship football team,” Sabercats Coach Steve Nott said. “They’re starting to believe it.”
“When we get on the field with all of our guys (healthy),” we’re going to be a hard team to stop,” Nott also said.
The Sabercats took an 8-0 lead in the opening quarter thanks to a six-yard touchdown catch by Matthew Jackson on a pass from quarterback Jordan Robinson-Wright. The play came shortly after Jackson and Robinson-Wright connected earlier in the drive on a 32-yard catch-and-run that brought the ball to Sudbury's six-yard line.
The Sabercats took charge of the game in the second quarter thanks to four touchdowns, including a 16-yard touchdown run by Robinson-Wright late in the quarter.
Nott said the Robinson-Wright touchdown was deflating for Sudbury.
Robinson-Wright also hit Marc Aceti for a touchdown while Nick Pagnotta caught a pass and turned it into a 72-yard touchdown.
Pagnotta finished the day with 77 yards on 15 carries and 91 yards receiving on three catches. Jackson caught four passes for 88 yards.
Defensively, Evan Sicoli intercepted a pass for a touchdown for the Sabercats. Jacob Jurich had seven tackles and four assisted tackles for the Sabercats.
“The defensive side was great,” Nott said. “We told them (the defence) at the beginning of the game that it was their game to win or lose. We knew going into the game and all the kids were aware that when you’re missing Mitchell Dellavedova and Tevin Daybutch, we weren’t expecting to score 38 points today. We were expecting 21 or maybe 24 and the defence knew they couldn’t make mistakes. Not only did they not make mistakes but the big plays they made were unbelievable.”
Liam Cousineau had the lone touchdown for Sudbury, which came in the final minute of play.
A rivalry between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury in football stems from many Northern Ontario Secondary School Association (NOSSA) high school meetings and Nott would say that a solid start in Saturday’s game would be the difference.
“As good as they thought they were coming in here, they all have in the back of their mind that they can’t beat the Sault at the high school level,” Nott said. “They know just from going to NOSSA in junior and in senior, they send undefeated teams up here and teams that dominated the whole year in Sudbury and lose by 20 or 30 points. We told the kids that if they (Sudbury) believe that they can play with us, it will be a tight game but if we can show them early that they’re not in our league, it will be in the back of their heads that ‘Man, these guys are better than we thought.’”
The Sabercats, now 3-1, will play a pair of road games to finish off the regular season. The team will take on the Huronia Stallions next weekend. Following a bye week, the team will face the Toronto Jr. Argos on July 9.