Blankings finish high school football regular season
GUELPH – Shutouts were the way of the day on a soggy Friday as the District 10 high school football league wrapped up its regular season with a tripleheader at the Guelph Lake Sports Fields.
The St. James Lions blanked the Bishop Macdonell Celtics 32-0, Centennial Spartans downed the Lourdes Crusaders 21-0 and Ross Royals dropped the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 35-0.
As the Week 2 rainouts at Eastview Park turned from postponements to cancellations, the regular season became a three-game campaign for each team.
St. James finished first with a perfect 3-1 record while Centennial and Ross were both at 2-1, Bishop Mac and GCVI both at 1-2 and Lourdes at 0-3.
The ties were broken by head-to-head play as the tied teams did play each other a week earlier. Centennial gets second thanks to a 27-26 win over Ross while Bishop Mac gets fourth due to a 23-0 win over GCVI.
Playoffs are set for this coming Friday and are to be held at Eastview Park, although rain could change that.
Centennial and Lourdes are to play at 5 p.m. while Bishop Mac and GCVI, who had a heated match in Week 2, are to meet again at 7:30 p.m.
St. James 32 Bishop Macdonell 0
The Lions led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 13-0 at halftime and 26-0 after the third quarter in the afternoon game.
Halftime talks spurred St. James to its second-half performance as the Lions were disappointed with their first-half play, due to several miscues and penalties.
“They’re things that were controllable, but we grinded it through and we persisted and eventually we got some scores up,” coach Jeff Cummings said.
While Cummings talked, he felt speeches by the veteran Lions did the trick.
“I think they respond to their leaders and their leaders kind of got out front of them and set the tone,” Cummings said. “They had some good talks with those guys about the way they need to be and the way they need to approach the second half. Their leadership, I give them a lot of credit.”
With the first-place finish, the Lions will get a bye in the quarter-finals and then join the playoff action in the semifinals.
“We’re happy with that because we’re going to get a chance to get healthy and we’re going to get a chance to actually look at all these teams and get some film on them and then prepare, which is what we haven’t really done yet,” Cummings said. “We just walked on the field and did what we’re going to do. Now we’re going to take a good look at these teams.”
The Lions will get an extra week to prepare for their next game, although they won’t know the identity of their opponent until the quarterfinals are finished.
“We need to work on habits,” Cummings said. “There are a lot of things that we need to pay attention to. We were short players and we were offside on certain situations. We’re still going the wrong way on certain plays.
“However, the main reason you get a bye is so you can get healthy. These kids are dinged up, let’s get them healthy now.”
Ben Cottrell scored a trio of touchdowns Friday while Sam Barry and Owen Tyler had one apiece. Cam Ross added a rouge and a convert.
Centennial 21 Lourdes 0
The Spartans scored six points in the first quarter, seven in the second and wrapped up the scoring with eight in the third.
The win gives Centennial a bye in the quarterfinals and two weeks until the semifinals.
“We’re going to talk as a coaching staff and see how to stay focused and see what we can do best to prepare for that,” Centennial coach Zach Pollari said. “It is always a challenge. Sometimes it’s an advantage to get the extra game and not get the bye, to be honest. But we’re going to make the most of it and control what we can control which is work on getting better regardless of the circumstances.”
Whichever quarterfinal winner the Spartans get paired with in the semifinals, the Spartans know it’ll be a tough opponent.
“There is a lot of parity in the league this year so it’s really up for anybody so we’ve got to be prepared for whoever our opponent is and honestly I have no clue who that is going to be,” Pollari said. “St. James is obviously first, but BM, Ross, GC and Lourdes will be battling it out for who moves on.”
And the Spartans will enter the playoffs with a bit of momentum after two consecutive victories.
“I’m seeing us improve,” Pollari said. “We’re really inexperienced, like everybody, and I feel like especially, for whatever reason, we’ve got a number of young guys. I really feel that we’re going to come on strong moving forward into the playoffs.”
Owen Taylor, Ethan Godinho and Andrew Newbigging each had a touchdown Friday while Matthew Ness had a two-point convert and Mason Hill kicked a convert.
Ross 35 Guelph CVI 0
The Royals held quarter leads of 7-0, 17-0 and 24-0 in the night game.
For the Royals, the performance was their best of the abbreviated season.
“We asked our guys to step up because we’re looking to improve,” coach Tim Mathewson said. “We needed to improve after the last two weeks. They took a big step up last week and obviously today a huge step up. Lots of positives, but we need to keep working because there’s some really good teams ahead of us that we’re hopefully going to play in the playoffs and we need to get better and keep improving every week. That’s what we’re going for.”
Ross is to play next week and they’re to face Lourdes, an opponent they didn’t play in their regular season.
“We’ll look at the film and see,” Mathewson said. “If we’re nitpicking, we didn’t finish drives and we left some points on the board. Other than that, it’s just matching the intensity of what we had and not be complacent, still going out and executing and doing what we did today. What we asked them to do was take one play at a time and execute and I felt that we did that fairly well today.”
Like all the teams, the Royals are dealing with a number of newcomers, some who have never played the sport before.
“It was hard for the guys after we won in 2019 who were going to come back for their (Grade) 12-plus year, but couldn’t come back,” Mathewson said. “I said to some people that it’s like having double the amount of new players. It takes some time and I think that’s what we saw with us. It’s taken us this long, two months of practice, to really get to a spot where we feel like we’re rolling. I thought today was pretty good.”
Niko Jean-Gaston scored a pair of touchdowns Friday while Max Nixon kicked two field goals and three converts. L.J. Brown and Sam Utting each added a TD and GCVI gave up a safety.
- Guelph Sports Journal