Crusaders, Royals gain berths in football semifinals
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH — The Lourdes Crusaders needed overtime while the Ross Royals didn’t to claim District 10 high school football quarter-final victories Friday.
Both teams scored 27 points in their victories to advance to next Friday’s semifinals.
The Crusaders used a touchdown on their first play of the overtime shootout to dispose of the defending champion Centennial Spartans with a 27-21 victory Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
The Royals scored two touchdowns in the third quarter on their way to a 27-0 victory over the Bishop Macdonell Celtics at Ross Friday afternoon.
Ross had finished third at the end of the regular season with a 3-2 record while Centennial was fourth at 2-3, Lourdes fifth at 1-4 and Bishop Mac sixth at 0-5. The first-place St. James Lions (5-0) and second-place Guelph CVI Green Gaels (4-1) had byes in the quarter-finals.
Semifinals are set for next Friday at Alumni Stadium while the final is slated to go Nov. 11, possibly at Alumni Stadium. The University of Guelph is hosting the U Sports men’s soccer championship tournament at the stadium that weekend, but there are no games scheduled on the Friday after 1 p.m.
Lourdes 27 Centennial 21 (OT)
At Alumni Stadium, the Crusaders stormed the field after receiver Dalton O’Brien hauled in a 35-yard pass from quarterback Jack St. Hilaire for the winning touchdown on Lourdes’ first play in the shootout.
St. Hilaire called an audible when he saw the match-up on 6-foot-3 O’Brien on the left side after the Spartans concentrated on the Lourdes pair of Keontae King and Ryan Gorgi who lined up on the right.
The Spartans had been stopped on six plays in their offensive portion of the shootout.
Lourdes entered the overtime feeling little pressure.
“There’s none,” Lourdes coach Joe Camilleri said. “There’s none because we put our defence out first. If you remember two or three years ago at Jacob Hespeler, I always put the defence out first. I know they’re going to shut them down. I talked to the boys right away and I said ‘If we need to win by a rouge, we need to win by a rouge.’ We stopped them and I pulled my two wideouts over and I said ‘We’re throwing a jump ball and it’s going to one of you two. Do not let them outfight you for the ball.’ And it went to Dalton. He outfought the guy for the ball and he made me look good.”
“The coach told me the game was on the line, to just fight for the ball and I did my best,” O’Brien said. “It was a great ball by our quarterback and I just timed it at the highest point. The feeling was unreal. Just awesome.”
The winning touchdown was the same play that the Crusaders used to force OT with a 30-yard TD pass from St. Hilaire to O’Brien that was converted by Matteo Cugliari with 21.2 seconds to go in regulation time.
The Spartans looked like they had won the game just over a minute earlier when quarterback Dakota Brown ran 17 yards to his right for a touchdown and Thomas Ness caught a two-point convert.
The game was close throughout with neither team getting a lead of more than a touchdown. Centennial led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and Lourdes came back to tie it 7-7 by halftime. The Crusaders led 14-13 at the end of the third quarter after blocking a convert in that quarter.
Like O’Brien, St. Hilaire scored two touchdowns for Lourdes, both on one-yard pushes into the endzone. Cugliari had three converts.
Brown ran for two TDs for Centennial while Tommy Nield caught a 15-yard pass from Brown for the other touchdown for the Spartans. Ness had his two-point convert and Ben Lane kicked one convert.
The Crusaders advance to play St. James in the semifinals. It’s scheduled to go Friday at 4 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
“We’re getting better every week,” Camilleri said. “We’re dealing with some players that we’re missing and we’re dealing with some injuries, but we’re getting better every week. We always say ‘It’s progression, not perfection.’ That’s the thing we’ve said from the start and we’re getting progress every week.”
“Every week we’ve been getting better,” O’Brien said. “Last week we had a really close game against St. James. They scored two touchdowns, but I think we’re going to come back strong next week.”
Ross 27 Bishop Macdonell 0
The Royals weren’t at their best offensively, but their defence stood tough against the improving, but bruised Celtics.
“We’ll take it,” Ross coach Tim Mathewson said. “Our defence pitched a shutout, which is great, but we definitely could do better on offence and we’ll talk about how to make that happen next week.”
Ross led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, 10-0 at halftime and 24-0 after the third quarter.
The battle in the trenches on a Ross field that was slick in some areas was a heated one full of pressure. James Leach of the Royals found out what it was like on both sides of the ball as he played on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“You’ve got to be physical up front, got to beat the guy across from you,” he said. “Just do your job.”
Quarterback Adam Shoemaker of the Royals scored a touchdown on a one-yard plunge while Elijah Jimenez caught a TD pass from Shoemaker. Owen Sutcliffe scored the other touchdown as he caught the ball after a blocked BM punt and ran 30 yards into the endzone. Jordan Bauer kicked two field goals and three converts to account for the other points for Ross.
“I think we can be a dangerous team in these playoffs,” Mathewson said. “We showed that last year and we’re ready for another run as long as we’re ready to outwork everybody.”
The Royals move on to meet GCVI in the semifinals Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
“No disrespect to BM, but beating GC is a lot different than beating BM,” Mathewson said. “We need to come to practice and we need to work hard. We need to outwork them this week.”
“We’ve just got to focus and come out every day to practice and get better every day,” Leach said. Just focus on executing and get rid of all the little mistakes and the bad penalties that will kill us.”