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Junior Tigers snap five-year winless streak

Quarterback Mitchell Papineau connected with Parker Mork for touchdown passes of 75 and 50 yards in 27-0 win over St. Patrick.

THUNDER BAY – Mark Nowak told his players they’d made history.

For the teenagers on his team, it was more like ancient history. In fact, most of his squad were still in elementary school the last time the Westgate Tigers junior football team won a game, a five-year drought that finally came to an end on Thursday night, thanks to a 27-0 win over the St. Patrick Saints at Fort William Stadium.

Quarterback Mitchell Papineau and receiver Parker Mork connected for scoring plays of 75 and 50 yards to lead the Tigers to victory, improving their record to 1-2, while dropping the winless Saints to 0-3.

Nowak said he hopes it’s the start of great things for the program.

“It feels awesome,” said Nowak, the junior Tigers long-time coach.

“This has been a monkey on our back for a long time. Our program went through some tough years and it was our goal to turn things around. The year before COVID we were on the right track and obviously got let down a bit. But this year we’ve got a fantastic group of kids. All they needed was to learn how to win. And now that they’ve learned how to win, they can do great things from here on in.”

Mork was the driving force all game long.

With the Tigers up 7-0 in the second, following a first-quarter, three-yard run by Lance Basalyga, Mork dashed up the right side of the field for a 27-yard score, Westgate owning a 13-0 lead heading into halftime.

Early in the third he was at it again, scampering 75 yards on the catch and grab from Papineau, then booted his own extra point to make it 20-0 for the Tigers.
“We’ve been practising for two weeks now. We wanted to come out and win our first game of the season. We know we were 0-2 and they were 0-2. Mitch was throwing perfect throws and I just happened to get lucky, and a bit of skill, and I ran a few in,” Mork said.

Just over three minutes later, on Westgate’s next drive, the dynamic duo were at it again, this time from 50 yards out.

“We came out and just played out game,” Papineau said.

“Parker can run and catch, so I just trusted him with the ball and gave it to him.”

The Tigers offence was firing on all cylinders and the defence wasn’t far behind. Westgate forced a turnover on downs inside the red zone in the opening half and on the first St. Patrick drive of the second, a botched play led to a fumble, defensive back Logan Bohonis gobbling up the ball. Later in the third it was linebacker Denver Mina who scooped up a loose ball, ending a Saints drive at the Tigers 45.

“We’re thrilled and we’re really excited about things to come for them,” Nowak said.

Hammarskjold 8, St. Ignatius 8: Gerald Marshall had a 70-yard kick-off return to open the second half for the Vikings, but Quinton Dawd scored on a 40-yard run for the Falcons in the final minute of the fourth and made the two-point conversion to even things up. Both teams are now 2-0-1. 


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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