Author: O.J. Costello

Great big ‘D’: Steelers host the Spartans, Jordan entering the NFC hall of fame

Former Steelers wide receiver Brad Jordan is getting inducted into the Northern Football Conference hall of fame with a halftime ceremony on Saturday night.
Author of the article:Gordon Anderson | North Bay Nugget
Published Jun 09, 2023

Perhaps Sault Steelers general manager Jon Bujold should get into the sports promotion business because he’s got a story to sell for Saturday night.

The Sault Steelers open the home portion of the Northern Football Conference schedule when the Sudbury Spartans pay a visit on Saturday night.

“(We might have) a generational defence,” Bujold told the Sault Star in a previous interview. “They fly around the field, they dominate and I think they are going to be a really good show to watch. If you are a true football enthusiast, watching this defence is going to be pretty impressive. It’s a special group we have here.”

Last weekend the Steelers picked up a 15-6 win over the Spartans at James Jerome Sports Complex.

Bujold said the team made a change during the off-season to a 3-4 defence, a switch that has unlocked the true potential of the ‘D.’ Thus, the proclamations about the defence being ‘generational’ and a ‘special group.’

Last season the defence was mainly the standard 4-3 setup but the club felt the strongest part of the defence was at the linebacker position and the Steelers didn’t want any of the ‘backers sitting on the bench with their cleats up, so to speak.

Standing on the sidelines is an inefficient way to manage your best personnel.

“We have elite linebackers and that is one of the reasons we made the change as we don’t want to have one of those guys sitting off on the sidelines,” Bujold said. “It also gives us more flexibility to disguise coverage, to disguise blitzes and to stunt on an offensive line and really frustrate them and create extra pressure.”

The GM said the presence of linebacker Michael Reid helped to hastened the switch to a different configuration.

“He’s a borderline coach on the field when it comes to defence,” Bujold said. “It’s something he’s been tweaking and working with. He is the man and we are going to continue to do whatever he thinks is best for the defence.

“And when you have Reid as your anchor on defence, having a 3-4 gives him the ability to move pieces around and come up with new and creative game plans. It’s frustrating to an offensive line when you are not used to practicing against it.”

And with three down lineman on the field, this give the club the opportunity to substitute the line in and out at will, Bujold very high on this particular Sault Ste. Marie group of seven or six.

“(Continuous substitutions) gives us the ability to rotate three defensive lineman and keep relentless pressure on the other team, Bujold said. “It suits the strength and personnel we have. We have depth in those positions. We have the ability to rotate fresh defensive linemen in and we really don’t have one who is a weakness.”

Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. at Rocky DiPietro Field.

“We are pretty committed to the 3-4,” Bujold said. “We are confident with that system and with the personnel we have (playing in that system).”

The local air Jordan

Former Steelers wide receiver Brad Jordan is getting inducted into the Northern Football Conference hall of fame with a halftime ceremony on Saturday night.

“Jordan was the first player to score a touchdown for the Steelers,” Bujold said. “He was a star wide receiver for the team during the 1970s. He was one of the original players on this team and was a star piece to the 1972 national championship group.”

Jordan’s touchdown came against the London Lords at what is now Rocky DiPietro Field back in ’72.

Original Article

The Senior Bulldogs are looking to keep the good times rolling in Oakville

The Senior Bulldogs are in Oakville this weekend for the second game of their Northern Football Conference season. They are looking to go 2-0 on the year.

Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jun 08, 2023

The Senior Bulldogs are looking to keep the good times rolling in Oakville

The North Bay Senior Bulldogs are looking to win their first road game they are playing in this season.

The Bulldogs’ first home game went well as they beat the visiting Ottawa Sooners 30-20 at Mike O’Shea Field last week.

This Saturday night it’s a trip to Oakville to play the Longhorns. Oakville was drubbed 42-0 by the Tri-City Outlaws last week. Bronte Field in Oakville was usually a place to be feared by visiting teams, perhaps not anymore.

“The guys are excited to play,” says Bulldogs head coach Marc Mathon. “Coming off a win is an exciting thing, especially it being the first game of the season. We didn’t know what to expect from them.”

The Bulldogs don’t know what to expect from Oakville either and the opposite holds true. Mathon says seeing game tape from the Ottawa game gives the coaching staff time to clean up their own house first.

“We are preparing by doing some of the things we saw on film that we didn’t do right last week,” remarked Mathon. The Bulldogs did a lot of things right, but they were gashed on some run plays and Mathon wants to tighten that up on defence.

“On defence, gap integrity, there were a few plays where we left our gaps (between defensive players) too big. Or we had players trying to do somebody else’s job,” stated Mathon. “In the fourth quarter they (Ottawa) exposed that, so we did some drills today (at practice) to work on that.”

It didn’t hurt that a Hec Crighton Trophy Winner, Jordan Heather, is the quarterback. Heather took some shots in the first half but still managed to throw four touchdown passes. Heather was glad to see the game tape from the opener.

“It is a really big tool; it lets us see exactly what happened and get better,” says Heather.

This is what the quarterback would like to see for The Oakville game.

“The biggest adjustments for us going into week two are communication on the offensive line and spacing by the receivers. We played and executed well, just need to clean up the small things,” says Heather.

The game in Oakville is at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Original Article

Spartans focus on details ahead of visit to Sault

‘We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’re going to take it one step at a time and we’re going to pick apart the mistakes and the issues we had last week’

Author of the article:Ben Leeson | The Sudbury Star

Suddenly a decade into his Sudbury Spartans career, hard-hitting linebacker Eric Breau has embraced a leadership role with the Northern Football Conference club — leadership that will be vital as the locals look to rebound from a season-opening loss to the Sault Steelers this past weekend.

“I was just talking with my wife about this and I think it’s my 10th year,” Breau said with a smile. “I had to coach one year, just because of work commitments, but I have played the other nine. It has been a while, but I’m still enjoying it, so until I stop enjoying it, I’ll be here.”

Breau and company will look to avenge their Week 1 defeat on Saturday, when they head to Sault Ste. Marie for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Their game will cap a triple-header between representatives of the Nickel and Lock cities, following clashes between their respective entries in the Ontario Summer Football League’s U16 and U18 divisions.

“As the veterans on the team, we’re always trying to encourage the young people to put in the work at practice, to get that commitment out of everybody,” Breau said during a practice at St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School on Wednesday evening. “I know sometimes life gets in the way, but if we’re at practice and we’ve all got jobs and other commitments, then we show that’s how you get better. It’s trying to lead by example, whether it be at practice, on the field or on the sidelines.”

He was encouraged, then, to see a healthy turnout at St. Bens for the second straight week, made possible in part through a pre-season shuffle in the team’s practice schedule, and was hopeful that more reps would lead to more consistency and, ultimately, a much better overall outing at Rocky DiPietro Field come Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’re going to take it one step at a time and we’re going to pick apart the mistakes and the issues we had last week,” Breau explained. “We’re going to take it one play at a time and get it done. We’re going to do whatever we need to prepare, so the next game has a better outcome.

“Consistency at practice is key. If you don’t have all your people, you can’t make all the changes and you can’t make the improvements and you can’t put in the different plays you want to do.”

While Junior Labrosse and his staff were by no means looking to reinvent the wheel this week, Sudbury’s head coach could identify areas for improvement in every aspect of the Spartans’ game, and made it a point to visit with each of their positional groups near the start of Wednesday’s session.

“The little things,” Labrosse said. “We have to clean up the little things. It’s not like you set to panic mode and stuff. Yes, it was a loss, but if we fix a lot of the little things, the outcome will be different.”

Asked to elaborate, Sudbury’s sideline boss pointed to examples on defence, offence and special teams. Returners cannot hesitate on kicks or punts, allowing them to go out of bounds and giving their team poor field position. Defenders need to shed blocks and make better reads, linebackers to flow to the play. Receivers must be more crisp in running their routes, while running backs have to hit their holes as instructed, trusting in their linemen to clear a path.

While giving the Sault full credit for a hard-fought victory, Labrosse refused last weekend to make any excuses for a rather unpolished performance on home turf, saying the Sault squad “beat us, plain and simple” and had been “a better team” that night.

He hoped his players would be just as riled by the result and would play with more intensity in the rematch.

“Play pissed off,” Labrosse said. “That’s how I would play. I don’t coach to lose and I didn’t play to lose. You play to win and that’s what I’m expecting out of these guys, saying you let them come in your house and slap you right in the face. Now, it’s time to show them that was a mistake.”

He certainly sees a lot to build on, from the athleticism or quarterback Nick Rideout and his receivers, including Week 1 standouts Tyler Bell and Victor Paajanen, to fresh-faced linebacker Bryce Desabrais, sophomore Andrew Kilby and Breau himself — among several others.

“When the O-line did execute, we were able to move the ball and we were able to throw,” Labrosse added. “When they didn’t, you see what happened. That’s what I mean by fix the little things.”

Breau was certainly encouraged by Sudbury’s progress on defence, even in defeat, pointing out that after some early hiccups, the home team did not allow a point for roughly a quarter and a half to close out last week’s contest.

“It took a little bit to get going,” Breau said. “But if we can keep up that strength going into the next game, I think we will give our offence a good opportunity to get on the field and score some more points.”

Original Article

2023 Week One Best Proformances

Category Perf. Player Team Opponent Date
Most Points 18 Bradon Metz TCO at MIFA June 3, 2023
Most Carries 14 Steve Hiiemma SSM at SUD June 3, 2023
Most Rushing Yards 151 Bradon Metz TCO at MIFA June 3, 2023
Longest Run 52 Brook Hoover SSM at SUD June 3, 2023
Receptions 10 Jacob Steringa NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Reception Yards 225 Jacob Steringa NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Longest Reception 75 Dan Leduc SSM at SUD June 3, 2023
Pass Attempts 34 Jordan Heather NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Pass Completions 22 Jordan Heather NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Passing Yards 404 Jordan Heather NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Tackles 6 Jesse Shoults NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Sacks 2 Iquan Heydarian OTT at NBY June 3, 2023
2 Kurt McConville GTA vs HAM June 3, 2023
2 Jimmie Cinninham GTA vs HAM June 3, 2023
Tackles for Losses 3 Zack Kirk SSM at SUD June 3, 2023
Longest Field Goal 19 Ovi Coca GTA vs HAM June 3, 2023
Longest Punt 44 Ovi Coca GTA vs HAM June 3, 2023
Longest Punt Return 44 Kevin Walsh GTA vs HAM June 3, 2023
Longest Kickoff 68 Carson Cleator NBY vs OTT June 3, 2023
Longest Kick Return 30 Brook Hoover SSM at SUD June 3, 2023
Longest Interception Return 44 Shawn Ashe TCO MIFA June 3, 2023

Steelers victorious on road in opener

The Steelers opened the season with the first of back-to-back games against the Sudbury Spartans
Author of the article Brad Coccimiglio | SooToday.Com

The Northern Football Conference regular season opened on Saturday night for the Sault Steelers.

Originally slated to open the season Saturday at home, a schedule change after a Toronto-based team withdrew from the league meant the Steelers would open the season on the road in Sudbury.

The Steelers proceeded pick up a 15-6 win over the Sudbury Spartans at Sudbury’s James Jerome Sports Complex.

The Spartans opened the scoring late in the opening quarter when Victor Paajanen caught a pass from Nick Rideout and turned it into a 48-yard touchdown with just over a minute to go in the quarter, A missed convert on the play left the Spartans with a 6-0 lead.

The Steelers got on the board with 98 seconds to go in the half when the Spartans surrendered a safety to make it a 6-2 game.

The Steelers proceeded to take the lead thanks to a 75 yard touchdown from Dan Leduc on the Steelers next possession with 1:26 to go in the half. A convert by Brady Smith made it 9-6 Steelers heading into the half.

The Steelers took a nine-point lead in the third quarter when Taylor Holub scored on a 12-yard pass from Ryan Yost with just over seven minutes to go in the quarter, ultimately capping off the scoring in the game.

Defensively for the Steelers, Andrew Batman led the way with 4.5 tackles while Connor Boudreau and Darian Belkosky had four each.

The Steelers also picked off three passes by Spartans quarterback Nick Rideout in the victory.

Andrew Kilby and Brandon Soucy had four tackles each for the Spartans.

The Steelers and Spartans are set to meet again on June 10 in the next action for both clubs as the teams cap off a home-and-home set to start the NFC season. Kickoff at Rocky DiPietro Field is set for 7:30 p.m.

Original Article