THUNDER BAY – Justin Nadon rushed the Hammarskjold Vikings to a regular-season championship.
The 15-year-old scored three times on the ground on Thursday evening, as the undefeated Vikings crushed the Westgate Tigers 35-6 to clinch top spot in the junior football standings.
Not bad for someone who never played competitive football until this fall.
“It feels awesome,” Nadon said. “This is my first year of football and it’s awesome to be part of a great team.”
It’s pretty amazing, said Hammarskjold coach Matt Steele.
“This is his third game playing football in his life and it’s a pretty good accomplishment to come out here and do what he’s been doing for us these three games,” Steele said.
“He’s had a growth mindset. He’s come out willing to learn, willing to learn with our coaches day in and day out and put his best foot forward.”
It’s not all Nadon, though his athleticism certainly helps, Steele added.
“When our line is working hard in front of him and everybody is doing what they were asked to do – and they’ve been asked to step up as coaches and players – we’re seeing a real growth with our young football team and I’m real proud of what they’re putting forward,” Steele said.
Nadon’s first score was his finest, a 36-yard scamper down the left sidelines, darting between defenders for the game’s opening score five minutes into the opening quarter.
Five-and-a-half minutes later he was at it again, this time he crossed the goal line from nine yards out, going up the gut and toughing his way into the end zone and a 14-0 Vikings lead.
Ethan Porter added to the Hammarskjold lead late in the second quarter, scoring on a seven-yard quarterback keeper, the Vikings adding another seven points to their advantage.
They’d return to the end zone 45 seconds later thanks to a miscue by the Westgate offence.
Quarterback Jarek Jesperson, buried in his own endzone and fleeing to avoid the safety, let loose a pass that appeared on its way out of bounds.
Tristan Belbas had other ideas.
The Vikings (3-0) defender snagged the ball, stepping out at the three to set up a one-yard scoring run by Dawson Roy and a 28-0 halftime lead.
Neither team scored in the third, the two sides trading touchdowns in the fourth.
Nadon made the Tigers pay for a botched punt, recovered by Nathan Smallwood on the Westgate 18, collecting his third touchdown of the day on a one-yard burst up the middle.
Jacob Jones snapped the Hammarskjold shutout bid with 23 seconds to play, taking it in from one-yard out, the extra point failing on a high snap.
Despite clinching first, it’s not time to celebrate quite yet, Nadon said.
“We’re not going to take any teams for granted. We’ve got a bye next week, so we’re going to practice hard all week so we’ll be ready come next game.”
Westgate remained winless at 0-2.
St. Patrick 17, Superior Collegiate 14: Mike Graham kicked a field goal at the buzzer to clinch the win for the Saints (2-1). Jordan Malench and Matt Sacino scored majors for the winning side. Owen Steele had a 59-yard touchdown for Superior Collegiate (0-2).