He’s physically the largest player on the team and the one who wears the No. 99 jersey.
So perhaps it was only fitting that defensive tackle Christian Parris of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves made some individually huge plays in the biggest game to date in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior high school football season.
It was Parris who made a thunderous quarterback sack in the second quarter that cost the Cardinal Newman Cardinals the services of their starting signal caller – Matthew Metcalfe – for the rest of the game. Brebeuf rallied from a 21-8 third-quarter deficit to defeat the two-time defending champion Cardinals, 29-21, at Mohawk Sports Complex on Wednesday (Oct. 9).
Entering the contest, the teams were tied for first place with 4-0 records.
Parris, who is 6-foot-3 and solidly built, also was responsible for a quarterback sack on third down that turned the ball over to the Braves in the final few minutes.
“What doesn’t help is losing our quarterback in the second quarter,” said Newman coach Anthony Macaluso. “I think that was the turning point in the game. Our offence had some plays after that, but you could tell we just weren’t in synch once we lost him. All credit goes to (Brebeuf), though. They’ve got a heck of a football team and so do we.”
There was no penalty called on what Macaluso said was a “body slam” that sent Metcalfe to the turf. Said Macaluso: “The referees didn’t think it was illegal. We’ll leave it at that. I respect their decision, but I disagree.”
Brebeuf coach Anthony Alfano called it a physical takedown but within the rules. Parris is in his first year of senior football. It’s his second year at the school.
“You are allowed to tackle guys to the ground” Alfano said. “Christian has played great. He really causes some havoc. When he puts his mind to it, he’s hard to block.”
With the injury to Metcalfe, versatile Marcus DiLoreto took over at quarterback. He’s a receiver/defensive back/kicker who also filled in for Metcalfe during the first game of the season. Against Brebeuf, DiLoreto booted three converts, caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Metcalfe and threw for a 35-yard touchdown to Justin Connolly. And with DiLoreto at the controls, Newman put itself in position to tie the score in the final seconds. However, on the second last play from scrimmage, from the Brebeuf 12-yard line, DiLoreto’s pass into the end zone was deflected by a Brave into the arms of Brebeuf defensive back Mackenzie Sajder for an interception.
“(DiLoreto) did a great job,” Alfano said. “We got lucky at the end.”
A defensive turnover on downs followed by a determined 24-yard run by quarterback Justin DiPietro seemed to give the Braves a lift heading into the fourth quarter. And in that final quarter, Brebeuf netted three touchdowns. Steven McNicholl scored on runs of one and 15 yards, while DiPietro plunged in from the one.
“Steven played great on defence (at defensive back),” said Alfano. “This was the first week we’ve played him at all on offence. He’s so talented.”
Santiago Velasquez gave Brebeuf an 8-0 lead when he gathered in a high, deep pass from DiPietro. It was one of a handful of high floaters that Brebeuf receivers went up to grab. Wide receiver Lucas Johnson was particularly adept at that for the winners.
“Lucas is our starting point guard in basketball,” Alfano said. “The last couple of years we haven’t had those athletes at wide receiver – those cross-over sports guys. Lucas knows how to use his body and box guys out to get to the ball.”
The other Newman touchdown came on a 49-yard run by Connolly.
Alfano says Parris lets his actions speak for themselves. “He doesn’t open his mouth,” the Brebeuf coach said. “Even when he makes a play, he’s just about playing hard and getting a big push up field.”
Elsewhere, the St. Thomas More Knights (2-3) got four rushing touchdowns by Osayi Iginuan en route to a 42-0 victory over the visiting St. Mary Crusaders. Iginuan’s scoring runs covered four, 30, four and 14 yards. Quarterback Mitchell Phillips and Darnell Swaby accounted for the other Knight touchdowns, while Billy Olds scored on a pair of two-point conversion runs. More led 28-0 at the half.
Cathedral Gaels won for the third time in four starts, edging the Bishop Ryan Celtics 12-8 at Mohawk Sports Complex. Quarterback Tyler Boucher scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 12 seconds remaining. Earlier, Boucher tossed a 15-yard pass to Weston Poore for the Gaels other major.
Liam Strabac had the lone TD for Bishop Ryan (1-3).
The Bishop Tonnos Titans had the bye.
The first-place team in the HWCAA earns an opening-round playoff bye.