For most of the summer, coach Gord Goddard and the Sudbury Spartans have been searching for something to build on. Taking a very young team with limited numbers into battle, the local Northern Football Conference (NFC) crew had taken its lumps, to say the least.
In their final regular game of the season, the Spartans may well have seen the light. The team dropped a tough 14-12 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Steelers, paying the price for a pair of missed conversions that would have earned the locals a tie.
Regardless, for a team which dropped seven previous encounters by a combined score of 336-29, a very tough, close defeat is likely a welcome sign.
The Spartans actually held a lead for the first time this year when running back Ryan Stanford scored on a five-yard run midway through quarter one.
With time winding down on the opening 15 minutes, the visitors pulled even, courtesy of the first of two majors by Aaron Berotolo. The wide receiver hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Rob Green, adding a nine-yard strike at 6:20 on the second quarter.
Sudbury's Josh Cuomo rambled in from four yards out with just 10 seconds to play in the half, giving the teams two touchdowns apiece. Unfortunately, Green made good on both of the Soo point-after attempts while the Spartans came up short, providing just enough room for the Steelers to escape with a win.
Once again, the homeside moved the ball effectively on the ground, with both Stanford (119 yds on 19 carries) and Cuomo (126/30) surpassing the 100-yard mark.
Brett McKnight finished with four receptions for 54 yards for the Sudbury crew, as Jordan Cecchetto completed 5/14 and Travis Campbell was one for two.
North Bay native Randy Nodder topped the Spartans defensive unit with six tackles while Justin Sauerzopf showed the way for the Sooites with seven.
With an 0-8 record, the Spartans will now head to the GTA on Saturday, battling the first place Toronto Titans in quarter-final action. Star quarterback Tommy Dennison and the Titans pummelled the Spartans 70-0 in their only head-to-head matchup of the season back on June 23 at Queen's Athletic Field.
Posted by Laurel Myers