Guelph CVI Green Gaels set for  CWOSSA football semifinal

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH — The Guelph CVI Green Gaels feel they are ready for their first CWOSSA high school football playoff game in a decade.

“It’s just all about keeping it that we don’t get too overconfident or we don’t get too down,” GCVI quarterback Simon Chaves said following a practice Wednesday at Exhibition Park. “We’ve got to keep that healthy medium.”

As District 10 champions, the Gaels are to travel to Owen Sound to take on the St. Mary’s Mustangs in a CWOSSA semifinal Thursday at 1 p.m. at Victoria Park.

“All year it’s been a great group to work with,” GCVI coach Blair Rickers said of the Gaels. “They seem to focus in on what they need to get done and for the most part they do it.”

The Gaels won the D10 crown last Friday night on the final play of the game as they edged the St. James Lions 38-37 at Alumni Stadium.

“I think we’ve still got a couple of people still on the high,” Chaves said. “That’s good. We keep that momentum into the game. We just have to have fun and know that we can play good football.”

The Gaels are also facing the challenge of going up against a team they don’t know much about. They’ve seen some video of the Mustangs from two seasons ago, but they know that’s old footage and things have likely changed.

“When we’re playing someone in D10, we generally have a pretty good idea of what they’re all about, what they’re going to run on offence or defence — at least a decent idea,” Rickers said. “Going up to Owen Sound, we don’t really have a clue. We saw some film of a couple of years ago. We know they’re very talented. We’ve read all about them and we know they have some really talented skill position guys and a quarterback who can throw the ball really well and some good running backs, a standout wide receiver. It’s going to be a really tough game for us, but we’re excited.”

“I think it’s going to be different being on a bus, too,” Chaves said. “Just the whole atmosphere, but it’ll be good. We’ll have a good time.”

St. Mary’s has been idle for almost two weeks after winning the Bluewater title with a 28-0 victory over Owen Sound District Wolves in the final. The Mustangs won both of their league games and was also triumphant in an exhibition match.

The Mustangs have also lost to a Guelph school in the semifinals two years in a row. This will be their third D10 opponent in as many years as they played the Lourdes Crusaders in 2014 and the Centennial Spartans last year.

“They’re going to be playing hard so we have to play just as hard as well,” Chaves said.

“We just don’t know what they’re going to throw at us,” Rickers said. “I think the big thing for this team is defensively, we just have to keep the plays in front of us. This team has been very good at stopping the run all year. Our thing is if we can prevent the big plays, which we didn’t do a good job of last Friday. If we can prevent the big plays — if a team can pass the ball down the field seven or eight yards at a time and do that for 80 yards, hey man, they deserve to win. Our thing is that we’ve got to stop the run and prevent the big plays.”

The GCVI-St. Mary’s winner will meet the victor of the other semifinal in the CWOSSA final. The other semifinal pits Waterloo St. David’s against Jacob Hespeler of Cambridge at Hespeler Thursday at 5 p.m.

The CWOSSA final is slated for Tuesday at Wilfrid Laurier’s University Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

The CWOSSA champion is to play in the Central Bowl, part of OFSAA’s football bowl series, at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field Nov. 30 at 10 a.m.