Trojans ambushed by Cru 0
A crusade came to Portage Collegiate Institute on Thursday.
Despite a spirited resistance, the host PCI Trojans fell to the visiting St. Paul’s Crusaders 27-6 in Winnipeg High School Football League Kas Vidruk Division play.
The Trojans (0-4) limited St. Paul’s (2-2) to a pair of field goals in the early going before the Crusaders were eventually able to maintain a drive and punch one over the goal line to take a 13-0 lead.
Late in the first half, the Trojans managed their first real pressure of the game, and they eventually capitalized with a short Dylan Brydges touchdown scamper, though the extra point was blocked to make it 13-6 at the half.
A PCI safety accounted for the only points of the third quarter, but the Trojans allowed a couple of late touchdowns to allow St. Paul’s to gallop away with the win.
The Trojans have 15 rookies on the roster, comprising about half the roster. Head coach Brent Irwin said inexperience, though not an excuse, stalled the team on Thursday, and things snowballed from there.
“We’re not sustaining our drives,” said Irwin. “Our defence was holding us in for the first half, and we started to push the ball downfield on offence and give our defence a break.
“The guys played hard, so that part, I love to see. The execution, we just have to be better at that, and we’re not there, unfortunately.”
With the Trojans pulling within a single score going into the half, there were positive feelings at the break. However, Irwin felt the tide shifted in the fourth quarter when a big Trojans stop was negated because of a penalty. The Crusaders promptly scored to take a 21-6 lead.
“With a young team, that affects you more than a veteran team.
“We’ve had a lot of veteran teams that could get through that kind of stuff. (Right now), it doesn’t take as much to upset the apple cart.”
Brydges, who carried the load offensively for PCI, said the Trojans weren’t as sharp coming out of the break.
“We came out a little bit flat-footed,” said Brydges. “We were working hard, but we couldn’t find a way to sustain drives. We weren’t getting off our blocks fast enough and we weren’t getting into the secondary.”
Irwin was impressed with defensive lineman Jordan Aymont, who chipped in on the offence while also serving as the team’s kicker.
“He played both ways and played hard,” said Irwin. “We put him out there because we’re just short of bodies. It’s tough on him, but he came to play.”
Save for a few big plays against, Irwin was fairly satisfied with the defence.
“Our defence, at times, played outstanding,” said Irwin.
“Our secondary was particularly strong.
“Blake Smith, at linebacker, had a solid game. He had some big plays.”
Smith said despite the winless record, morale is good and the team is noting its accomplishments.
“We’re still positive,” said Smith. “Our defence is getting really good at gang-tackling. The gang tackles were really good today.”
The Trojans will be back on the field next Thursday when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Kildonan East Reivers (2-2) at 5 p.m. If PCI can win two of their final three games, there still is hope of making the postseason. It helps that the team’s final two games are against teams that are currently 1-3.
Though the focus is still on 2012, Irwin still can’t help but imagine what could be when the Trojans are back on an upward swing.
“The good thing is if guys stick with it, we’ll have a strong program next year,” said Irwin. “We’ve got another crop of rookies coming up and hopefully we can find some surprises again.
“We haven’t given up on this year. We’re still hoping to get into the playoffs, and then, who knows?”
Will the Trojans make the playoffs?