Defence states its case as Ross Royals reign in D10 football
GUELPH – The Ross Royals completed their worst-to-first journey Friday night when they captured the District 10 high school football title for the first time since 2013.
The Royals claimed the D10 crown when they dropped the defending champion St. James Lions 34-9 at Alumni Stadium.
“Defence was huge,” Ross coach Tim Mathewson said. “They really couldn’t get much going at all and that was true for the whole game. The offence didn’t really start clicking until the second half. We took advantage of some of their mistakes and good field position, but otherwise we were really rolling in the second half.”
“They played very well and we just couldn’t get anything going,” St. James coach Colin Malone said of Ross’s defence. “We had too many mistakes early on and too many turnovers, but hey, they’re a good football team and they played well and they deserved to win.”
The Lions also gave up the ball in their own end a couple of times when they came up short on third-down gambles.
“We lost our jumbo package because a couple of guys went down so we couldn’t put that in later in the game when we were trying to go for those, too,” Malone said. “When you get down, you’ve got to try to get back in it and that’s what we were trying to do.”
The Royals were ready for this one and took advantage of every opportunity they had to keep the game in their control. That included recovering a fumble by the Lions on the opening kickoff that Ross turned into a field goal three plays later.
Running back Teo Jean-Gaston scored all four touchdowns Ross scored while Max Nixon kicked two field goals and four converts.
Nic Bertolo had the lone touchdown for St. James and Cameron Ross kicked a field goal.
Most of the offence for the Royals was based around the running of Teo Jean-Gaston, although the Royals kept the Lions honest as quarterback Niko Jean-Gaston ran the ball a few times and also connected on several passes, most notably a bomb to Copeland Frasson that set up Teo Jean-Gaston’s first TD.
“He’s been our horse all year,” Mathewson said of Teo Jean-Gaston. “There’s been games where he’s rushed for 250 yards in a half. Kudos to the big boys up front on our O line because if they get a little bit of a push and they get a hole, he can break it and get some really huge yards.”
For the Lions, the loss put an end to their first ever reign atop the D10 league as last year’s title win was their first.
“Unfortunately, I think last week was our championship game,” Malone said. “We were worried that we might come out and that this would happen, that it would get away from us. We weren’t expected to be here and we got here and we reminded the guys of that tonight, that we won a big game last week and put ourselves in the championship yet again and we’ve got to be proud of that.”
Friday’s final marked the fourth consecutive one that saw the Lions as one of the combatants.
The Lions did get to leave the field feeling a little better about themselves when Bertolo scored his TD in the final two minutes of the game.
“You’ve got to pull the positives,” Malone said. “These guys were 0-2 (on the season) and came back and won a couple of games and then they took one on the chin (42-7 loss to Centennial) at the end of the season, but came back to win a semifinal so those are all good things that we take from this.”
The Royals and Lions both gained their spots in the championship tilt by knocking off higher-placed opponents in the semifinals a week earlier as Ross squeezed by the Centennial Spartans 21-18 and St. James edged the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 17-14. GCVI had finished the regular season in first place at 5-0 while Centennial was second at 4-1, Ross third at 3-2 and St. James fourth at 2-3.
The D10 title win puts the Royals into the CWOSSA quarter-final game against the Brant County champions at Brantford Thursday. Brantford CI Mustangs (3-2-0 in regular season) and Assumption Lions (4-0-1) are to meet in the Brant County final Saturday at the Brantford Bisons Alumni North Park Sports Complex. Game time is 2 p.m.
The winner of the quarter-final will be the host team in one of the CWOSSA semifinals Nov. 14 while the CWOSSA championship game is scheduled for Nov. 19 at Alumni Stadium.
Ross last won the CWOSSA title in 2009 and Assumption won it each of the five years immediately after that.
Royals 34 Lions 9
St. James 0-3-0-6–9
- Guelph Sports Journal