boy Baka leads Giants to A-Cup upset
By Fred Sherwin
Gloucester Giants defensive back Joshua Baka
scored both of his teams touchdowns in Sunday's
NCAFA peewee A-Cup final against the Cumberland
Panthers. Fred Sherwin/Photo
highly anticipated NCAFA A-Cup peewee final between the
North Gloucester Giants and the defending champion Cumberland
Panthers was supposed to be a chance for the Panthers
to avenge their only loss of the regular season and lay
claim to the title. It turned out to be the exact opposite
as the Giants emerged victorious and ended the Panthers'
difference in the game was a pair of punt returns by Giants
defensive back and punt return Joshua Baka who celebtated
his 14th birthday with an MVP performance.
first touchdown came at the end of the first quarter.
With the score tied 0-0, the fleet-footed Giant caught
the punt on the fly and took it 68 yards into the Panthers'
end zone to give his team the early 6-0 lead.
Panthers responded late in the second quarter with the
only offensive touchdown of the game for both teams when
Josh Ruby miraculously eluded several Giant defenders
and threw an outlet pass to Fabrice Mukendi who took the
ball 57 yards to the house to tie the game, which is where
the score remained until early in the fourth quarter when
lightning struck twice.
failed to pick up a first down deep in their own end,
the Panthers elected to try and kick the ball out of bounds.
Instead it landed in the hands of Baka who took the ball
from sideline to sideline and out-ran the Panthers' punt
coverage team for his second touchdown of the game. Paul
Kasemba would add an extra two points for good measure
to give the Giants an eight point lead.
did their best to mount a late comeback, but on this day
the Giants defence was just too good and the result showed
on the scoreboard as North Gloucester walked off with
the 14-6 win.
the bedloom that erupted on the field, Baka did his best
to describe his game winning return.
just took the ball and ran for the open space," he
said. "My partner Kieran (Maharry-Bradshaw) blocked
for me up field and cleared the way."
In a game where the teams' respective offences were expected
to duel it out the end, it was the defences that shone
Panthers did an excellent job in keeping Giants' feature
running back Scott Fulton out of the end zone and North
Gloucester did the same in limiting the explosive Mukendi
to just one touchdown.
teams' rosters are sprinkled with players who played on
the Cumberland Panthers' bantam varsity team which made
it to the OVFL semi-finals in the summer. The Giants have
five players from that team on defence and the Panthers
have an equal number of players on their offence. Unfortunatelty,
three of those players - quarterback Christian Veilleux,
wide receiver Zane Teichroeb, and centre Alex Gingras
Desjardins - had to watch from the sideline having suffered
season-ending injuries earlier in the schedule.
said, it was the defences shone brighest on the field
at Millennium Park.
defences stepped it up," Giants head coach Moe Slaehe
said after the big win. "I was expecting the offences
would shine, but the defences carried the day. It's just
too bad their has to be a loser. Both teams should be
the winner. They gave us everything we could handle."
his part, Panthers head coach Jeff Koradi echoed Salehe's
were making plays all over the field on both sides of
the ball. It was awesome," sais Koradi. As for Baka,
a young man he coached on the Panthers bantam varsity
team this past summer, he had nothing but praise.
know what, he's a great athlete so it's no surprise. But
I love the fact that our guys didn't quit. We fought right
to the end and at the end of the day I'm proud of these
guys. They never gave up."
racking up 341 yards in the first meeting between the
two teams on Oct. 8, Fulton had just 114 on 27 carries
on Sunday. Still the yards he did gain ate up the clock
and kept the Panthers offence from getting into any rhythym.
That's evident by a quick look at the stats.
of his touchdown catch, Mukendi for just 58 yards on 16
carries. His running mate Jonathan Aoude was hed to -4
yards on five carries and Ruby carried the ball 10 times
for 36 yards.
Sunday's loss the core group of the Cumberland Panther
players have had a tremendously successful run, losing
just three games in the last six years and winning four
A-Cup city championships along the way, twice at tyke
and once both at the mosquito and peewee levels.
many of them this could very well be their last year playing
football. Most will continue playing varsity football
and very likely high school football as well.
North Gloucester Giants celebrate after winning
the NCAFA A-Cup championship on Sunday. Fred
9:30 p.m., Nov. 9)
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