The second half of the Brant-Norfolk Varsity Football League is shaping up to be a free-for-all following an upset in Delhi on Oct. 15.
The Thunderbirds of Brantford’s Pauline Johnson Collegiate came to Delhi to play, notching a 27-20 win for their first victory of the season while handing the 3-0 Raiders – the 2019 Norfolk Bowl defending champions — their first loss.
The effort the Thunderbirds put in against Delhi is the kind that can lift a team and set it on a higher trajectory for the remainder of the season.
Quarterback Ryan Hill was cool and collected in the pocket as he picked apart the Delhi secondary with a precision short-passing game, leading his team steadily up field on several occasions for major scores. Hill connected twice with Quinton Luscombe for touchdowns.
The Thunderbirds were ecstatic at the buzzer, with coach John Macdonald, formerly of Simcoe, describing the win as “surreal.”
“It’s emotionally overwhelming,” Macdonald said. “We haven’t won a game within our program in a while. This league – it seems every game is head-to-head.”
With the Raiders trailing 20-6 at the half, it was clear Delhi had a fight on its hands. The Raiders aren’t used to losing – let alone losing on home turf – but coach Dave Leatherland said that’s what happens when you encounter an opponent that plays with intensity.
“Pauline Johnson just kept coming at us,” Leatherland said. “They played a good, solid game. There’s a few plays I’d like to have back– but, hey, that’s sports.
“We’re finding out that this league is really wide open. No one is really out of it. There have been years when one or two teams are head-and-shoulders above the rest but not this year.”
Tre Hodder, Ty DeJonghe and Raiders’ quarterback Adam Leatherland scored Delhi’s touchdowns.
The Thunderbirds’ win is interesting because they began the season with a scoreless tie against the Sabres of Simcoe Composite School and then dropped a 9-6 decision at home to the Titans of Holy Trinity Catholic High School of Simcoe last week.
For their part, Delhi defeated Holy Trinity in the first week of play so the top teams head into Week 5 of play next week with no clear favourite to speak of.
For their part, the Sabres travelled to Waterford District High School for a late afternoon game against the Wolves.
This is the Sabres’ third game of the season and – four weeks in – it remains to be seen whether they can generate any offence. For their part, the 0-2 Wolves are still hunting for their first win of the season, something they are not used to given the traditional strength of the football program at WDHS.