The installation of an electronic scoreboard and a press box are still to come next month at Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School’s impressive new multi-sport athletic field.
And so, too, could a third consecutive Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior high school football championship be a reality in November for the Cardinals of Cardinal Newman.
Playing on its $1.2 million artificial turf field for the first time this season, and with a full house in attendance, Newman defeated Cathedral Gaels, 21-7, under the lights on Friday (Oct. 18). That result improves second-place Newman’s record to 5-1 and drops Cathedral to 3-2.
The state-of-the-art athletic field in Stoney Creek features alternating shades of green, a red end zone and a large Cardinal logo at mid field. Improved lighting, bleacher seating for 625 and a new four-lane track are also part of the facility. As for the playing surface is one of only a handful of its kind in North America – Edel Grass-Future DS turf.
The junior Cardinals kicked off the festivities in the first half of the doubleheader by edging the Gaels, 20-17. David Benedetti’s 34-yard field goal with seven seconds left capped the scoring.
“We wanted to make sure we honoured all those people whose hard work and sacrifice went into this,” Newman coach Anthony Macaluso said at the conclusion of the senior contest. “So we’re happy to get two wins to open the field.
“This was a long time coming.”
Mitch Atlee, who recently missed three games with an injury to his ribs, scored the opening touchdown on a two-yard run in the first quarter. Quarterback Matthew Metcalfe increased the lead to 14-0 by halftime with a 12-yard TD run and Muneka Munashe gathered in a nine-yard third-quarter scoring strike from Metcalfe to stretch the home team’s advantage to 21 points.
Cathedral’s lone touchdown was from a 52-yard punt return by Justin Lloyd with 59 seconds remaining. Patrick Wilcon converted.
“It feels great to be back,” said Atlee, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound veteran running back who was carted off the field and taken to hospital for examination during the Sept. 25 game against Bishop Ryan. “We have a great field and a great team.”
Macaluso says the return to action of Atlee provides a huge boost to the Cardinals attack.
“We’ve got three running backs who are elite running backs in this league,” the first-year Newman head coach said. “When we’re firing on all cylinders, we’re excited about what we can be.”
Justin Connolly, who made a sensational full-out diving catch on one play, and Marcus DiLoreto (three converts and several big catches), were again key performers in the backfield for the Cardinals.
Newman has a bye during the final week of the schedule.
“We’re happy with the win heading into the playoffs,” Macaluso said. “We’re not thrilled with the way we played, but a ‘W’ is a ‘W.’”
Macaluso was pleased with the play of his entire defence but said defensive back Zac Sibley and corner back Mark Bradica were individuals who excelled.
Lloyd, who praised the blocking on his punt-return major, said the Gaels didn’t come to life until it was too late. In addition to his touchdown, Lloyd also caught three long passes for a combined 85 yards from quarterback Tyler Boucher during the closing minutes.
“In the first and second quarter we didn’t do much at all,” Lloyd said. “The fourth quarter was where we were trying to do it all. But that doesn’t cut it. You have to execute from the first quarter to the last.”
Lloyd said it’s going to take time for the field to settle in completely. “Overall,” he said, “it’s a really good field. Friday night lights is awesome.”
Elsewhere, the Bishop Ryan Celtics blanked the St. Mary Crusaders 21-0 on touchdowns by Mark Fournier, Jacob Thompson and Nicholas Boonstra. Boonstra’s two-point conversion run and a convert by Michael Fortino accounted for the rest of the Celtic scoring.
In the junior contest, St. Mary defeated Bishop Ryan, 16-2.
Cathedral at More, St. Mary at Bishop Tonnos and Bishop Ryan at undefeated Brebeuf are the final senior games of the season on Friday, Oct. 25. The senior quarter-finals begin Friday, Nov. 1.