For a second straight year, a Canadian school named Assumption College in Brantford, Ontario, will make a four-plus-hour trek straight west past London, Sarnia, Port Huron and Flint to play Lansing Catholic in football at 7 p.m. today at Holt Junior High.
The Cougars were seeking an opponent for an open week on their schedule in mid-October last year, agreed to play Assumption and defeated the Lions 56-14.
“They actually contacted us this year, because they don’t know their schedule until shortly before the season,” Lansing Catholic coach Jim Ahern said. “We were still open (on tonight’s date) at that time and were able to work it out.”
Ahern is expecting a closer game with Assumption, a team that includes players age 19 and 20 who are back for a 13th year of school.
“Last year, the biggest thing (that hurt Assumption) was line play,” Ahern said. “Their coach (Raj Saini) said the hardest thing for them to adjust to was in Canada on their line of scrimmage they have to be a distance of about a yard off the ball — which is not the case in the states.”
Ahern thinks Assumption (3-0) will adjust to that better tonight.
“They also have a split end who is probably faster than anybody on our team, and a tailback who is getting better at bouncing outside or cutting back (when holes close or are not there when expected),” Ahern said.
Assumption is used to playing with rules similar to those of the Canadian Football League, where 12 players (rather than 11) maneuver on a wider field that is 110 yards long, end zones are 20 yards deep, and a punt, kickoff or missed field goal not returned into the field of play results in one point (called a rouge or single) for the kicking team.
The Lions are playing Lansing Catholic during a bye week on their schedule. After one more regular-season game next week, Assumption will likely get another bye as the top team in the Brant County Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association before postseason play, and possibly a Western Bowl appearance in November.
Sports sponsored in the BCSSAA are the same as here with the exception of bowling and lacrosse, but also include curling, badminton, rugby and rugby sevens (although girls softball is called fastball).
The Assumption team will finish off its trip to Michigan by attending the Toledo-Eastern Michigan University game at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Ypsilanti.
But first the Lions have to face Division 5 eighth-ranked Lansing Catholic (6-1), which has averaged 40 points per game with Brock Rucinski at quarterback. Rucinski, who completed 4 of 5 passes for 20 yards in a reserve role against Assumption a year ago, has passed for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall.
“I think we’re going to score,” Ahern said. “The big thing is not giving them the big play.”