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Defense gives IHC win, hope for greatness


Immaculate Heart Central features some dynamic players that eventually will make the Cavaliers’ offense explosive.

But it’s the aggressive, veteran IHC defense that will lead Paul Alteri’s club to what he hopes will be an extended postseason run this season.

Recording eight sacks, including five by senior defensive end Cody St. Onge, IHC held visiting Thousand Islands to minus-10 yards rushing and just 73 total yards in a season opening 26-0 Section 3 Class A North football victory Friday night.

IHC was so dominant that it forced the Vikings into 20 negative plays from scrimmage. But St. Onge said he expects the defense to play even better as the season progresses.

“We were really ready to go tonight,” said St. Onge, an undersized 6-foot, 175-pounder. “Our veterans really put in a lot of time preparing for the season, but I think we’re capable of playing even better.”

Middle linebacker Austyn Frechette also recorded two sacks and Miles Sexton, who plays on the opposite end to St. Onge, notched the other as Thousand Islands sophomore quarterback Tyler Gilfus was forced to run for his life most of the night.

“Miles is so tough, he forced their quarterback right to me for two or three sacks,” St. Onge said. “And because we stopped their run, we could just take off for the quarterback on almost every snap.”

IHC’s defense will have to stand tall until the offense eventually finds its rhythm.

Junior quarterback Cole Carpenter, making his first varsity start after seeing only limited duty in a backup role a year ago, had an inconsistent debut. He completed 6 of 16 throws for 88 yards, including a 3-yard first-quarter touchdown to Nick Koelmel. But Carpenter was also intercepted three times and forced a few throws into coverage.

Alteri expects his quarterback to progress with more game action.

“I like Cole’s initiative,” he said. “He made some really nice throws, and then a few where his feet were not set. But, hopefully, he and the entire offense will learn more each week and we’ll start clicking better.”

Carpenter drove IHC down the field for a score on its first possession. He capped off a 9-play, 62-yard drive by hitting Koelmel (6 receptions, 78 yards) for a short score and newcomer Jude Whalen kicked the extra point.

Whalen, an exceptional athlete playing football for the first time after moving over from soccer, then took a reverse 49 yards untouched for IHC’s second score with 5:24 left in the opening quarter.

However, the Cavaliers couldn’t add to that and settled for a 13-0 halftime lead.

But IHC’s defense overcame two interceptions by Brentyn Horton deep into Cavalier territory late in the first half, holding the Vikings on downs twice.

Michael Marra added a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Jordan Trudeau added an 11-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

As for his defense, Alteri said he was impressed. “The kids use their technique and speed so well. When we can get on the edge like that, we’re pretty tough.”

One negative for IHC is the loss of senior fullback/linebacker Spencer Sharlow for the season with a broken ankle suffered in last week’s scrimmage.

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