As the minor football season passes the half-way point, there are mixed results for the four age groups of the Bel-Air Copeland Lions.
The Tykes got off to a 0-3 start, but the 10-and-under group continues to show enthusiasm and there is constant improvement. Rookies Samarone Mousa and Sadig Hashem are typical of youngsters who join the Tyke programme with little-to-no knowledge of football. Yet like others before them, these two have found a sport where they have made new friends and have developed some new skills. Last year, Matt Gourgon was a rookie, and although still not one of the big players on the team, has taken the role of starting quarterback at mid-season this year. All of the Tykes look forward to the rest of their games as a chance to have some fun and meet competition from around the region.
The Mosquitos also got off to a tough start but have rebounded with two consecutive victories. These 11 and 12 year olds have turned to the running game on offence this year. Meanwhile, on defence, Blair Thorp has emerged as one of the Lions' stars. The defensive back and punt returner has thrilled the spectators at each game with his efforts. Key players have missed games due to illness, and the rest of the team has dug down a little deeper to bounce back into contention. Newcomers Ian Pell and Luke Schnurr, and veteran James McIntyre have provided the team with an added spark.
What more can the Pee-Wee defence do? After half a season of football, these hard hitters have yet to give up even one point to the opposition. Obviously this squad is loaded with talented players. Joe Kanaan and Geordie MacGregor are two of the stalwarts on this smothering defence. But the offence has also been impressive, as the ball has been distributed to all of the runners and receivers. Quarterback Derek Crupi has made the adjustment from Mosquito, and with veterans around him, plus familiar faces such as Chris Holmes and Yannick Molgat-Seon up from Mosquito, the entire Pee-Wee team is armed to meet the tough teams they have yet to face.
Not to be outdone, the Bantams are also undefeated, but again have yet to meet some of their stronger opponents. This group is working hard to prepare for all challengers though. The team has excellent attendance at practice, and the team spirit is great. Many long time players are on the crushing defence, and the huge improvement in the offensive line this year has certainly made life easier for all of the backfield members. Jon Sullivan and Jason Hoy have really picked up their blocking, while on defence, Nick Lozano and Jean Knight have added outside support to allow the bruisers inside and up front to hammer opposing runners.
Our league has three levels of play-off action, with all teams involved in the post-season. Each team with Bel-Air is looking to a successful finish to the season. The fun is in getting there, and victory on the field is only a bonus.
Check the schedule of games on the league web site http://www.ncafa.ottawa.com
There is nothing better than being out in the fall air ... watching kids play football!