The Sudbury Spartans will have to be content with simply having made progress this year.
Finishing the regular season at .500 or better for the first time in a decade, the Spartans followed up a 4-4 campaign with a tough 20-7 loss to the Tri-City Outlaws Saturday night in Cambridge.
As they had on many occasions this summer, the Spartans got on the board first, with quarterback Travis Campbell connecting on a 25-yard strike to Nick Micelotta for the only score in the first quarter.
However, the Outlaws gradually asserted their dominance, establishing a ground game Sudbury simply could not handle. With running back Dan Seymour racking up 173 yards on 26 carries, the homeside would go to the air infrequently, attempting just 11 passes in total, including three in the second half.
Still, some of the completions were big ones, as the Outlaws grabbed the lead before the half, with pivot Greg Slocum finding Shawn Aske for passing majors of 19 and 30 yards, putting Tri-City ahead 12-7.
The extra cushion the Outlaws needed came midway through the third quarter. Kris Kusch bulldozed in from the two-yard line, with the defence taking care of the rest, recording three interceptions as both Campbell and Jordan Cecchetto saw action at quarterback for the visitors.
Campbell finished with a stat line of 8 for 15 (115 yards) with two interceptions, while Cecchetto was 5 of 13 (62 yards) with one interception. Unfortunately, the Spartans could get nothing going with the rushing game, finishing with 24 yards as a team.
Dustin Crowder led the way defensively for the visitors, recording seven tackles, with Kevin White next best at five, in addition to having the only Sudbury turnover, recovering a fumble.
The local NFC'ers had ensured themselves a break-even regular season one week earlier in Hamilton, recording a come from behind 30-24 win over the Steel City Patriots. Late touchdown passes from Campbell to Crowder (25 yards) and Micelotta (70 yards) gave Sudbury the margin of victory in the see-saw affair.
Micelotta added a second major (39 yd TD pass from Campbell), with Scott Smith rambling 50 yards to the end zone following a short pass for the remaining Sudbury touchdowns.