Another last-play victory for GCVI Green Gaels
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – Defensive back Donny Smart of the Guelph CVI Green Gaels had one shot at redemption Friday night at Alumni Stadium and he made the most of it.
“I messed up on the last play. I missed (Centennial Spartans quarterback) Dakota Brown, he’s a hell of a runner,” Smart said after the Gaels edged Centennial 31-29 in the final game of the District 10 high schools football league’s regular season. “I missed him and they scored the touchdown on third down. I knew I had to do something. I had to do anything to be able to make a play and win the game for us because I felt I lost it for us.”
Dakota Brown’s touchdown and the convert by Ben Lane gave Centennial a one-point lead with 24.1 seconds to go in regulation time.
The Gaels, though, came back and quickly moved the ball into scoring range and with less than five seconds to go, receiver/kicker Ben Boddy attempted to win it with a 28-yard field goal. However, the snap was bobbled and Boddy had to hesitate before attempting his kick. The ball sailed wide, but the Spartans were penalized for roughing the kicker as Boddy and Dakota Brown collided just after the kick.
It appeared to be a good-news, bad-news situation for the Gaels. They got to kick again, but Boddy was hurt on the play and needed attention before being helped off the field.
That brought Smart, one of the team’s emergency back-up kickers who sometimes kicks for fun, into the spotlight.
“When they called my number and told me to go out there and kick that field goal, I told them ‘I can do it,’” he said.
While he had a 13-yarder to attempt with no time on the clock, Smart had a simple plan that he hoped would at least send a D10 game into a shootout overtime for the second time this season and second time in two days.
“I went out there with the goal of just kicking the ball as hard as I could,” he said. “If I missed, it would go out the back and we’d get a point. Thankfully it went in and that’s a big moment for me.”
The overtime wasn’t needed, though, as Smart nailed the kick to begin an on-field celebration and give the Gaels an undefeated season. While they’d already clinched first place and a bye in next week’s quarter-finals, the Gaels wanted a 5-0 record.
“This is a big win,” Smart said. “Anytime you can go 5-0 and stake the claim of being able to beat everyone, it’s a big win. Obviously this was not our main goal. Our main goal is to win D10 again and we’re focused to do that. We didn’t have a great game but I feel that if we put in the work, we can definitely get there.”
The Spartans had jumped into an early lead as they were up 14-0 at halftime, but GCVI rallied in the third quarter to carry a 21-14 lead into the final quarter. Centennial tied it in the first minute of the fourth before GCVI went ahead again with a touchdown midway through. A Centennial single with 4:50 to go cut the gap to six points and they went ahead with Dakota Brown’s last-minute TD.
Boddy had a touchdown and four converts for the Gaels while Brandon Ferigo, Thomas McColl and Josh Tran each scored one touchdown and Smart had the winning field goal.
Dakota Brown had two touchdowns for the Spartans while Daniel Brown and Drake Davis had one apiece. Lane kicked four converts and a single.
The final standings had GCVI first at 5-0, St. James Lions second at 4-1, Ross Royals and Centennial tied for third at 2-3 and Bishop Macdonell Celtics and Lourdes Crusaders tied for fifth at 1-4.
Ross wins the tiebreaker with Centennial thanks to a 27-20 opening-game win Sept. 22 and Bishop Mac wins the tiebreaker with Lourdes due to their 31-24 OT win over Lourdes Thursday.
GCVI and St. James get byes in the quarter-finals. Ross is to host Lourdes in one quarter-final and Centennial is to host Bishop Mac in the other. While the quarter-final schedule has not been announced, the games are likely to be played Friday at 3 p.m. at Ross and Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
St. James 41 Ross 24
The Lions scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open a close game and secure a second-place finish.
“This is a huge win for us to get the bye week,” St. James coach Jeff Cummings said. “We’re banged up. The last three weeks we’ve been dealing with a variety of injuries just like everybody, but our point was that we wanted to earn that bye week and we’re proud of the guys for doing it.”
The score was tied 7-7 at the end of the first quarter and Ross led 17-13 at halftime. St. James was up 20-17 at the end of the third quarter.
“Our defence was amazing again today,” Cummings said. “I start with coach (Josh) Pryor. He spends the weekend preparing and scheming for offences. He spends an inordinate amount of time preparing like no other high school coach I’ve ever seen. He’s the first weapon we have and the guys respond to the strategy he puts in place every week.”
The bye week will let the Lions rest their injuries and also give them time to work on their chemistry.
“We’re looking at this as a bonus,” Cummings said. “There’s going to be some team building in there and there’s going to be some down time for guys to get rested – mentally rested for everyone because it’s been a long season. When you go out and try to win the bye, that’s what you earn. This week’s going to be fun for the guys.”
Tanner Nelmes scored four touchdowns for St. James to increase his seasonal total to 13 touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Baseggio scored two touchdowns while Piotr Czachor kicked five converts for St. James.
George Carriere, Ty Dokis and Austyn Tasi each scored a touchdown for Ross while Griffin Cunneyworth kicked a field goal and three converts.