BRASHER FALLS — The coronavirus pandemic has cut the Section 10 football season to just a handful of games and Canton began to make the most of its limited chances in posting a 42-14 road win over St. Lawrence Central on Tuesday at Randy Riggs Field.
“This season, every game is THE game and every game could be the only game so nobody wants to waste whatever opportunities we’re going to have,” said coach Tom Cloce after the Golden Bears used a 20-point second-quarter surge to break away from the Larries in the first varsity football game played in the section since November of 2019.
“The worse thing for us this season is that we are only going to have a couple of games. This group has been playing football together for a while and we could see things building toward having a good season but then COVID hit, and things got delayed,” he added. “We only have five seniors so it was huge for them to be able to get out and play at least one game.”
As will be the case through the abbreviated Fall Sports II season, there were no kick-offs and no returns were allowed out of punt formations. Blocking was allowed on conversion attempts following touchdowns and would have been allowed for field goal attempts.
A name that is familiar to St. Lawrence Central football took center stage in an opposing role as Canton junior quarterback Daniel Mahoney led the winning offense with his arm and his legs. Playing in front of his grandfather, SLC Hall of Fame football coach Jerry Mahoney, and his father, former SLC standout quarterback and veteran St. Lawrence University men’s lacrosse coach, Mike Mahoney, the Golden Bears’ signal caller rushed for 65 yards on 13 carries, including touchdown scampers of 16 and 13 yards that helped to break the game open in the second quarter. He also completed five of eight passes for 85 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ashton Cloce just 49 seconds into the second quarter, a 55-yard touchdown strike to Lane Rayburn just 1:12 into the third and a one-yard connection with Cloce that closed out the scoring with 6:45 left in the third.
“I was a little more nervous than usual before the game. I wanted to play well in front of my dad and my grandfather,” said the youngest Mahoney. “We haven’t had a lot of time to get ready but the whole team has really worked hard and I thought we came out ready to play, from the seniors right down to the freshmen.”
“With having only two games, we don’t want to take anything for granted,” he added. “I’m just thankful to be able to play and while I’m out there, I just want to do my best and have some fun.”
Zach VanBrocklin also made lead contributions toward the Canton win, going for 133 yards on 16 carries, including a two-yard run that opened the scoring 4:16 into the game.
After struggling to find their stride through the first three quarters, the Larries got on track offensively in the fourth where they produced the final 14 points of the game. Ashton Adams spoiled Canton’s bid for the shutout with a 20-yard run for a touchdown just 1:35 into the final frame. Hunter Arquiett then connected with Tommy Storrin for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 3:41 remaining and Jayden Ashley carried the ball in for the two-point conversion that closed out the scoring.
“It really came down to a lack of experience for us tonight,” said SLC coach Bruce Truax. “We have eight freshmen playing and half of the rest of the team has never played football before. We’ll get better.”
“One thing I was really happy to see is that we didn’t just sit back and quit,” he added. “I’m very competitive and I don’t like losing 42-14 but we got a lot of kids into the game and got a chance to see what they can do under game conditions. This game is over, now we have to come to practice tomorrow and start getting ready to play against Potsdam on Saturday.”
Eight different players ran the ball in the Larries’ season opener. Storrin finished with 23 yards on three carries and also had two receptions for 12 yards. Ashley had eight carries for 42 yards.
The Bears close out their season next Wednesday at Potsdam while the Larries host Potsdam this Saturday in their finale starting at 10 a.m.