Junior Gryphons bantams into league final

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Junior Gryphons aired it to gain a berth in the Ontario Provincial Football League regional bantam championship.

Saturday at Alumni Stadium, quarterback Brendan MacRae of the Junior Gryphs threw four passing touchdowns as the hosts downed the Clarington Knights 37-7 in semifinal play to gain a berth in next month’s championship match.

“I just feel that at this age the pass is really underutilized,” Guelph coach Mike Carney said. “We put a lot more emphasis on it and it gives teams a lot of trouble.”

While the Junior Gryphs used the pass for scoring, they still stuck to the ground for the majority of their plays.

Defensively, the locals held Clarington to a single point until the final five minutes of the match when the Knights scored their lone TD of the game.

The semifinal victory continued a strong season for the Junior Gryphs in the regional league. They had started the season in the premier bantam league, but moved to the regional league after they lost their opener 96-6.

“This is a better opportunity for our players to develop and be around more competitive teams in a good league,” Carney said. “I think they’ve come a long way since Day 1.”

Ty Dokis caught three of MacRae’s TD passes Saturday, his first midway through the opening quarter gave Guelph a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. He also hauled down TD tosses in the third and fourth quarters.

In each of his touchdowns, Dokis ran at least 40 yards to the end zone after catching the pass.

MacRae also connected with Keyon Robinson for the other passing TD early in the fourth quarter and MacRae scored the other TD on a one-yard plunge with five minutes to go.

Robinson also caught a two-point convert and Karzaih Mati kicked three converts.

Clarington scored a rouge early in the second quarter that left the score 7-1 at halftime.

Jamie Keast ran in for Clarington’s TD in the final five minutes of the game, cutting the gap to 30-7 at the time.

The Junior Gryphs advance to the league’s championship game where they’ll face the Orangeville Outlaws who upset the Toronto Jets 26-22 Saturday at Toronto’s Brebeuf College.

Toronto and Guelph had finished atop the league with 8-2-0 records while Clarington was third at 6-4-0 and Orangeville fourth at 5-5-0.

The Junior Gryphs had defeated Clarington twice during the regular season, winning 14-7 at home June 3 and 29-14 at Bowmanville July 8.

Guelph also defeated Orangeville twice in high-scoring games in the regular season. The Junior Gryphs won 40-30 at home June 10 and 47-36 at Orangeville July 16.

Saturday’s win was the sixth in a row for the locals while Orangeville has been on a win-one, lose-one trend with games played during the season.

The final is to be held Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. at Kiwanis Field in St. Catharines.