Volume 12 Week 5

Wednesday, June 28


 

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NCAFA Football
Peewee Panthers end regular season on a high note
By Fred Sherwin
OrleansOnline,ca

Fabrice Mukendi dances his way through the Kanata Knights defence on his way to one of five touchdowns in the contest. Lynn Gibault/Photo

First, the good news: the Cumberland Panthers peewee team ended their regular season schedule with a 46-7 win over the Kanata Knights on Saturday, ensuring themselves of homefield advanage throughout the playoffs.

Now for the bad news: while doing so, they potentially lost yet another OVFL player to a season-ending injury when defensive lineman Avery Bent left the game in the fourth quarter with a lower leg issue. He joins quarterback Christian Veilleux (cracked collar bone), recevier Zane Teichroeb (broken collar bone) and centre Alex Gingras Desjardins (broken ankle) in the team's infirmary.

Despite their depleted lineup, the Panthers still managed to make short work of the Knights who were a respectable 4-3 heading into Satruday's game.

Among the changes the team had to make heading into the game was placing their all-star running back Fabrice Mukendi under centre to replace Veilleux who cracked his collar bone in a 26-22 loss to the North Gloucester Giants last week.

Mukendi responded with one of his best games of the season, running the ball 12 times for 257 yards and five touchdowns. He was also a perfect 2-for-2 in the passing department, playing his first-ever game at quarterback.

Mukendi's backfield running mate, Jonathan Aoude, also had a strong game carrying the ball 13 times for 179 yards and a touchdown, and Sebastien Pierre had one carry for an 18-yard TD, giving the Panthers a total of 454 yards on the ground.

But it was Mukendi who came through with several highlight reel efforts on the artificial turf at Millennium Park, bouncing back from a sub-par performance against the Giants in which he was limited to 23 yards on nine carries playing on a wet and muddy field.

Asked what it was like playing quarterback for the first time, the 14-year-old Mukendi admitted it would take some getting used to.

"It was pretty hard being it was a different position, but my O-line helped me out and my receivers ran their routes hard and stuff, so yeah it was good," said Mukendi, who only had two practices at QB heading into the game.

The Knights lone touchdown came in the second quarter on a nine-yard pass from Kareem Ferdinand to Caleb Faulkner who managed to keep his feet in bounds at the edge of the end zone. The touchdown was set up by a 46-yard completion two plays earlier.

With the regular season now behind them and second place locked up in the East Division, the Panthers can look forward to a first round playoff match-up against the third place team in the west which had yet to be determined when this story was written.

The only thing the Panthers do know for sure is that the game will be played at Millennium on a field that gives them a major advantage. As for the challenge ahead of them, Mukendi said that he and his teammates plan to do whatever it takes to win the team's third staight NCAFA championship and fifth in the last six years.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work. We just gotta do what we do," said Mukendi.

(Posted 7 a.m., Oct. 16)

 

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