It took the expansion John Taylor Pipers just two weeks to record their first win as a football program in the WHSFL, as they knocked off St. John’s 41-15 on Wednesday night at North Winnipeg Nomads Football Field. The win served as affirmation for the group of hard-working athletes, most of whom had never played football prior to this fall.
“On the roster, we have 8-10 guys who’ve actually played football before. It’s quite a culture shock, but man is it working out,” said Pipers head coach Patrick Smith, a Winnipeg Rifles and MMJFL alum. “On our first day we had about 45 guys show up. We have some very committed guys. They were ready to wear yellow, I’m telling you.”
One of the first-year players who stood out on Wednesday was running back Anointing Nnah. He used his speed and vision to break free on multiple long touchdown runs, including the eventual game-winner that put the Pipers up 16-15 at halftime. Prior to that, the contest had gone back-and-forth thanks to the combination of power backs Joshua Farber – last week’s Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for over 300 yards – and Jacob Mpoyo, who executed the wildcat formation effectively for the Tigers.
“I like how absolutely positive he is,” noted Smith on Nnah. “He’s a volleyball player first, but unfortunately the volleyball program fell through, and 45 guys coming to play football instead of volleyball is what happened. We’re blessed to have a guy like Anointing here every day now.”
Not to be forgotten were veteran receivers Liam Hutter and Dylan Tereck, who made plays in the passing game all evening for the Pipers. Tereck’s two touchdown grabs in the second half broke the game wide open, one of which came in impressive fashion as he showcased his concentration and field awareness by hauling in a grab in the back of the end zone while falling back on the end line.
“Leadership-wise, it’s next level. We just have guys in the right spot and we have the right kids. Our leaders, [defensive lineman] Keegan [Haubrich], [quarterback] Nate [Councillor], [receiver] Dylan [Tereck] and [receiver] Liam [Hutter], those four guys literally keep everybody in check,” said Smith.
“We had a problem at the beginning of the season getting everybody there for 4 pm, and now they’re there stretching at 3:58. They’re different kids, it’s the culture and the buy-in. They’ve started to respect the sport.”