Volume 12 Week 5

Sunday, Jan. 20


Team of the Month

Posted Jan. 10

Posted Jan. 9

Posted Jan. 7


Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney

NCAFA Football
Birthday boy Baka leads Giants to A-Cup upset
By Fred Sherwin

North 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

Sunday's 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' championship run.

The 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.

Baka's 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.

The 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.

Having 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.

Cumberland 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.

Amid the bedloom that erupted on the field, Baka did his best to describe his game winning return.

"I 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 brightest.

The 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.

Both 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.

That said, it was the defences shone brighest on the field at Millennium Park.

"The 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."

For his part, Panthers head coach Jeff Koradi echoed Salehe's assessment.

"Guys 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.

"You 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."

After 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.

Outside 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.

Despite 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.

For 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.

The North Gloucester Giants celebrate after winning the NCAFA A-Cup championship on Sunday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(Posted 9:30 p.m., Nov. 9)


Visit www.orleansonline.ca's main page





Click on image

Click on image



Orleans Online © 2001-2014 Sherwin Publishing