Bumps, bruises and some growing pains.
That – along with the thrill of victory – is what talented young quarterback Mitchell Phillips of the St. Thomas More Knights experienced while playing his first football game at the senior high school level.
St. Thomas More quarterback Mitchell Phillips (10) making his debut as a senior Knight (Photo: Gerry Graham)
The Grade 11 quarterback tossed a touchdown pass but, admittedly, made his share of mistakes as the Knights defeated the visiting Bishop Ryan Celtics, 15-8, in one of three Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association contests on Friday. Elsewhere, the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves topped the St. Mary Crusaders, 30-14, and the two-time defending champion Cardinal Newman Cardinals got past the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 33-17.
In addition to his 28-yard second-quarter touchdown strike to slotback Lucas Sagodi, Phillips was intercepted three times (Eric Bonomo, Giordan Caruso, Jacob Thompson) and turned the ball over on third down three other times, enabling the Celtics to stay within striking distance of the lead. But the play that Phillips probably wishes he could have back the most occurred on More’s final snap from scrimmage. The Knights had possession on the Bishop Ryan two-yard line. Phillips flipped the ball out in desperation and it was gathered in by the Celtics’ Mark Zulak, who returned it 104 yards for the score. Nicholas Boonstra then ran in for the two-point conversion as the clock ran out.
“To be honest,” Phillips said, “I panicked (on the final play). I wasn’t thinking. I should have eaten it or handed it off. I shouldn’t have been going for it.
“I made some good plays, but I made some mental errors, too. Over time, once we get more into the season, I’ll eliminate those mistakes. It will come with experience.”
Photo: Gerry Graham
Phillips, who guided the Knights to the junior title last season, was at the helm for the Knights as they made their 2013 debut. With the loss, the Celtics slipped to 1-1.
More led 15-0 at the half. The Knights got their other points on a one-yard burst by running back Kadeem Bertrand and a 19-yard field goal by Justin Walsh.
Knights coach Claudio Silvestri said his team played well in a number of areas but they kept giving the Celtics opportunities to stay in contention. “We were concerned right up until the end,” he said. “We just couldn’t finish them. We have a young team. It wasn’t an A game today.”
Phillips rolls out often and throws well while on the run. He gained yards effectively through the air to Sagodi, Zach Barber, Billy Olds, Daniel Rivera and Jaylen Clarke. Along the ground, the Knights relied mostly on Bertrand and Osayi Iginuan along with Rooks Llewellyn.
“Mitch is a very exciting young talent,” Silvestri said. “He’s a fabulous athlete. He’s going to be a great player in this league. But young quarterbacks make mistakes. As I told him on the sideline, he’s got to keep learning from his mistakes, whether it’s an interception or a poor decision. We have a lot of confidence in him. He’ll get better every week.”
Celtics’ coach John Fleming said his team – led by linebacker David Hazell and the defensive secondary — made adjustments at the half and played well the rest of the way.
“I thought we had it,” said Fleming. “Our kids are resilient.”
At Bishop Tonnos, the Cardinals improved to 2-0 with the win over the 0-2 Titans. Newman, which went into the half tied at 10, got touchdowns by Mitch Atlee, Justin Connolly, Clark Adams and Marcus DiLoreto. DiLoreto also booted a field goal and two singles.
Cam Wright and Daryl Skuse scored the touchdowns for the Titans, while Joe Radojewski chipped in with a field goal.
Brebeuf moved to 2-0 with its victory and the Crusaders fell to 0-2. Cathedral, 0-1, had the bye.
In junior, Brebeuf edged St. Mary, 21-19, and St. Thomas More defeated Bishop Ryan, 30-7.