Bastarache was East-West Steel City Bowl foot soldier

A member of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals was a real ‘standout’ at the 26th-annual Steel City Bowl.

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

(Photo: Gerry Graham/HWCDSB)

Wide receiver Ethan Bastarache of the Cardinals stood out to university scouts and fans at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium Sunday (Dec. 4) for two reasons: One, he caught a touchdown pass to help the East to a 21-14 victory over the West; And, two, he served as the kicker for both teams.

Bastarache was particularly noticeable on the field at times because he wore an all-white East uniform, while the West players were dressed in all black.

About 80 select players from the Hamilton Catholic and Hamilton Public high school football leagues took part in the season-ending all-star contest. They were chosen by a Hamilton Football Association selection committee.

Bastarache wasn’t originally supposed to do the punting and placekicking for the West. It happened out of necessity.

“They told me today … right before the game,” the Grade 11 student said of the West’s personnel predicament. “It didn’t really matter. It’s good for me, though, to get in the kicking reps.

“The game was a great experience. It was a fun time.”

The East, which had Catholic representation from Cardinal Newman, Bishop Ryan, St. Jean de Brebeuf and Cathedral, took the lead when Newman running back Nicholas Petermann scored on a one-yard run. That play was set up by Newman defensive back Joey DiLabbio’s interception at the West 35-yard line.

Bastarache added his first of five converts (three for the East, two for the West) before grabbing a 17-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jordan Rimac.

“Coach called in the play,” Bastarache said. “Jordan and I have a good connection from Newman. I just ran my route, he found me and it was there.”

The West – with Catholic selections from St. Thomas More, St. Mary and Bishop Tonnos – narrowed the gap to 14-7 with three minutes left in the first half thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by John DiBerardo of the OFSAA Independent Bowl champion St. Thomas More Knights. Normally a guard, DiBerardo took the snap from centre and powered into the end zone.

The best march of the game then padded the East’s lead to 21-7. Rimac ran for 15 yards and connected for 45 more through the air on a pair of passes to Petermann and one to Xavier Masotti of the Bishop Ryan Celtics. Running back Lavar Anderson of Bishop Ryan capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.

The West made it close down the stretch when Carter Rutledge of the Waterdown Warriors took a handoff and scampered into the end zone from the 8-yard line with 3 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.

The West recovered two fumbles deep in East territory in the final three minutes but couldn’t capitalize on either opportunity.

“Hats off to these kids,” head coach Anthony Macaluso of the East squad said. “They had two practices to try to learn a whole offence or defence. A lot of it is different from what they are doing at their schools.

“They put on a good show today. That’s for sure.”

Macaluso said the defensive front four of the East turned in an outstanding effort and put a lot of pressure on the West quarterback throughout. One member of that fearsome foursome – Cathedral Gaels defensive end Sebastian Paciocco – was selected Baron Rings Overall Game MVP.

“He had a couple of sacks,” Macaluso said of Team Ontario’s Paciocco. “He was an animal out there.”

The Offensive Player of the Game was Rimac, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 170 yards.

The Defensive Player of the Game was lineman Ryan Leder of St. Thomas More, while Bastarache received Special Teams Player of the Game honours.

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