Centennial finishes first, Ross grabs playoff berth
GUELPH – The Centennial Spartans claimed a first-place finish while the Ross Royals grabbed the fourth and final playoff berth as the District 10 high school football league wrapped up its regular season Friday at Alumni Stadium.
The Spartans defeated the St. James Lions 23-2 in the final game of the regular season to finish in top spot while Ross began Week 5 play with a 25-0 win over the Lourdes Crusaders to secure a fourth-place finish.
The Bishop Macdonell Celtics blanked the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 49-0 to clinch second place, their highest finish since the school moved from downtown Guelph to its current location in the south end of the city.
Centennial finishes first at 5-0-0 and are followed by Bishop Mac at 4-1-0, St. James at 3-2-0, Ross at 2-3-0, Lourdes at 1-4-0 and GCVI at 0-5-0.
The wins for each team were over the teams that finished below them in the standings.
The semifinals are set for next Friday at Alumni Stadium. Ross is to play Centennial at 4 p.m. and St. James and Bishop Mac are to clash at 7 p.m.
It’s the exact same matchups as last year’s semifinals when Ross and St. James won to advance to the final at Guelph Lake Sports Fields to complete the shortened pandemic-influenced season.
This year’s semifinal winners are to meet in the championship game Nov. 4 at Alumni Stadium. Game time is 6 p.m.
The D10 champ will take on the winner of a CWOSSA quarter-final match between the D5 and D8 champs Nov. 16 at the home of the quarter-final winner.
The CWOSSA final is to be held at Alumni Stadium Nov. 22 while all nine OFSAA Bowl Games are to be played at Alumni Stadium Nov. 28 to 30.
Ross 25 Lourdes 0
Ross jumped ahead 9-0 in the first quarter and extended the lead to 18-0 by halftime. All the scoring in the game was complete by the end of the third quarter.
“That’s huge. It’s kind of been a tough season going 0-3, but we’ve been 2-0 after that and that’s a lot of momentum going into the playoffs,” Ross quarterback Tim Nixon said of the victory. “We made a lot of mistakes those first three games, but in the last two we’ve been limiting those mistakes and that’s why we’ve been winning.”
The Royals also feel that things have been getting better each time out.
“As the season has been going on, practices have been getting more and more intense and we’ve been doing better things in practice,” Nixon said. “We’re really looking forward to playoffs.”
Nathan Guth, Troy MacDonald and Cole Scarrow each had a touchdown for the Royals while Charlie Thurtell kicked three converts and two rouges. Ross also had a safety.
When the Royals posted their win, their playoff opponent was not known as it wouldn’t be decided until the final game of the day.
“No matter who we play, it’s a great football team so we’ve just got to come ready to work at practice this week,” Nixon said. “We’ve just got to execute next weekend.”
Bishop Macdonell 49 Guelph CVI 0
Bishop Mac scored three touchdowns in the first quarter on their way to grabbing a second-place finish.
“It’s always good to go out with a win to be ready for playoffs,” Bishop Mac’s Sam Shoniker said. “You don’t ever want to lose that last game, it prepares you for playoffs. You’ve got that win and you want more so it prepares you.”
The game gave the Celtics a chance to get game action for all its players as the match meant nothing for the Gaels. They’d been eliminated from the playoff race the previous week and knew they’d finish sixth.
“A few years back, GC used to dominate us so it feels pretty good to get that back, but we definitely got everybody in,” Shoniker said.
The Celtics led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter and 41-0 at halftime before a scoreless third quarter.
Akmal Azizi scored the first two TDs of the game for Bishop Mac while Sam Shoniker scored the final two. Between were single TDs by Seth Nelson, Ryan Wolf and Cole Philips. Martina Vair kicked six converts and a rouge.
Bishop Mac feels that getting playoff success might be pretty simple and rest on their own shoulders.
“No mistakes,” Shoniker said. “Today we had lots of mistakes and we need to fix that. If we have no mistakes we’re unbeatable. We’re just a great team, but no mistakes. That’s what kills us.”
Centennial 23 St. James 2
The final game of the weekly tripleheader and of the regular season decided first place.
“We wanted it,” Centennial quarterback Amrit Atwal said. “We played hard and we fought through everything, adversity and everything. We had some penalties that didn’t go our way, but we kept fighting. It’s fun, but the job’s not finished yet. We’ve still got D10 (playoffs).”
By finishing first, the Spartans will have a target on their back as everyone wants to knock off the top seed.
“We’ve just got to stay focused in practice every day,” Atwal said. “Everyone just show up. We’ve just got to keep battling through and D10, we’ve just got to keep working.”
And the Spartans know they’ve got to try to take penalties out of their game as they can be critical in the do-or-die world of playoffs.
“We’ve just got to be smart with it,” Atwal said. “We’ve got to know our plays and everything. We just made stupid mistakes, but we fought through.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Spartans shot ahead as Matthew Stam collected the opening TD of the game as he and Atwal combined on a 105-yard catch-and-run play.
The Spartans led 7-2 at halftime and 10-2 at the end of the third quarter before getting TDs from Owen Taylor and Nathan Laskowski in the fourth quarter. Ethan Godinho added two converts and a field goal.
The points for St. James came on a safety.
Centennial last won the league title in 2015, but will be looking to exorcize playoff demons they’ve accumulated since then. They made it to the league final in 2018, but suffered a one-sided loss to St. James. They lost in the quarter-finals to GCVI in 2016 and in the semifinals to GCVI in 2017 and to Ross in 2019 and 2021. There was no league play in 2020 due to the global pandemic.
“This team is good,” Atwal said of the 2022 version of the Spartans. “We’ve got a lot of dogs on the team, but we’re going to keep fighting. The job’s not finished, though. That’s all I can say. The job’s not finished.”
- Guelph Sports Journal