NACI Tigers win season opener

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Taine Middleton breaks away from a tackler, in NACI's home opener on Friday, Sept. 7

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

The Neepawa Area Collegiate Institute (NACI) Tigers have hit the ground running, both literally and figuratively to start the Rural Manitoba Football League season opener. The Tigers accumulated 255 yards rushing and three touchdowns on Friday, Sept. 7, on the way to a 44-6 win over the Southwest (Souris) Sabres.

The combination of Tanner Mann and Taine Middleton lead the way with 86 and 85 yards rushing respectively. Each player also added a rushing touchdown. Teammates Connor Kasprick and Jayvee Posadas also contributed with 44 and 40-yard rushing efforts, with Posadas collecting the third touchdown on the ground. 

While the ground game lead the way offensively, NACI’s passing numbers were still solid, as Mann went 4-for-10 in the air, for 107 yards and three passing touchdowns. The receivers on those scores were Burke Erickson, Ryan Belisle and Jayvee Posadas.

Bend, don’t break defence

On the other side of the ball, the NACI Tigers came up clutch when it mattered, with three quarterback sacks and three fumble recoveries. Rylan Hollier and Lucas Keller lead the team with 12 and 10 tackles apiece. Hollier also added a sack to his overall stat-line. Other standouts included Lucas Keller (10 tackles), Colter Birnie (7 tackles - 1 sack) and Rory Cathcart (2 fumbles recoveries).

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Jayvee Posadas (19) gets taken down near the 10-yard line.

Still room to improve

For first-year head coach Chidi Small, it was a solid start to the regular season, though he does note that this team is capable of even better.

“My overall assessment was that we were relatively average out there. Early on, we didn’t execute as well as I think that we could, though I thought we bounced back and had the right mentality in the second half. Overall there is a lot that we can improve on,” said Small. “I think early on [in the game], it was just that they were chomping at the bit to get out there and play. As the game progressed, they settled down and focused on playing more disciplined. This team has a lot of skill and if they remained focused, are capable of competing with anyone.”

The next game for NACI will be on Friday, Sept. Sept. 21 in Moosomin, when they face the Generals.