Guelph CVI Gaels figure it’s already playoff time

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The defending champion Guelph CVI Green Gaels kept themselves in the playoff race as they withstood a comeback attempt by the Ross Royals for a 28-24 victory in District 10 high school football play Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.

“That feels good,” GCVI coach Dan Crabbe said of his team’s first win of the season and his first win as head coach of the Gaels. “That was a tight win. Ross battled for four quarters, they came out and they never let up. That was anybody’s game at the end.”

Both the Gaels and Royals were winless when they entered the game, but GCVI hit early to grab a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. They were up 21-7 at halftime, but the Royals started to get its offence in gear just before the break.

GCVI led 28-15 at the end of the third quarter.

“They have some threats on that team and they figured out what they had to do,” Crabbe said of the Royals. “They adjusted.”

“It was good to see us step up,” Ross coach Tim Mathewson said. “The thing is the first two games and really at the start of this game, too, I just felt that if we could get the ball rolling, if we could score a touchdown and we could get some momentum, we could really get it going and not be stopped.”

Ben Boddy struck for three touchdowns for the Gaels while Keyon Robinson had one and Abdalrahiem Suleiman converted all four.

“The key tonight was the offence was moving the ball,” Crabbe said. “The offence was moving the ball down the field and the offensive line was clicking. That’s was different than the last couple. We were able to give our defence a rest and that was a big stride for us.”

Copeland Frasson had a touchdown and a two-point convert for Ross while Adam Shoemaker had a TD and a convert and Shaveenn Waidyatilake scored the other TD. The Gaels conceded a safety.

“We just ran out of time and we just started too slow at the beginning,” Mathewson said. “We went to our hurry-up offence and that just gets guys to stop thinking in their heads too much and just to play football and read.”

Both teams entered the game with some concern about where they’d be at if they came out on the short end of the score.

“For us, this is the first playoff game of the season,” Crabbe said. “We talked about that. This is it. If you can’t come out and play with the stakes that we have right now, then the season’s over. We knew this was the first playoff game of the season and from here on out we’ve got to win every game.”

“It makes it a lot tougher for the playoffs,” Mathewson said. “We’re going to have to win the next two and rely on others. It’s really going to be tough, but we’re going to play it out to the end.”

St. James Lions and Centennial Spartans both won Thursday to remain tied for first place with perfect 3-0-0 marks. They’re to meet next Friday at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

Bishop Macdonell Celtics, GCVI and Lourdes Crusaders are each at 1-2-0 and Ross remains with a shot at qualifying for the playoffs although they’re at 0-3-0.

This season four teams qualify for the playoffs, meaning two will be on the outside looking in.

Next week’s games will go a long way to determine the qualifiers. Centennial is in as it will win a tie-breaker with any or all of the 1-2-0 teams. St. James has all but solidified its playoff berth. A win by the Lions or loss by Lourdes next week will put St. James in. Ross isn’t out, but will need to win both of its remaining games (Thursday at home at 3 p.m. against Bishop Mac and Oct. 19 against Centennial at Alumni Stadium) to stand a chance.

Next Friday’s 4 p.m. game at Alumni Stadium has Lourdes playing GCVI.

 

St. James 21 Bishop Macdonell 2

The Lions had a big second quarter to take charge.

“We were from about the second quarter on able to get some subs in,” St. James coach Jeff Cummings said. “We wanted to get some bodies on the field and we felt we had taken control and it was time to get some players who had been working all week some time on the field.”

“We see progress with our team. That’s no longer the expectation, success is obviously the expectation,” Bishop Mac coach Rob Hamilton said. “We had some kids feeling under the weather and we have the flu going through our team right now, but at the end of the day we’ve got to push through stuff like that. That’s all about adversity. I’m not going to rely on those excuses, we did not perform when we needed to perform and we allowed a team to win this game.”

St. James extended a 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 20-1 advantage at halftime. Each team scored a single in the third quarter for the only scoring of the second half.

“Things get a little sloppy when you move people around, but it was time to get some bodies on early in the second,” Cummings said.

“We have to understand that right from the beginning of this season and all the way through, every team that gets up on us is because we’re allowing that to happen,” Hamilton said. “We have a defence that can outplay any offence and we have an offence that can outplay any defence.”

Tanner Nelmes had a touchdown and two-point convert for the Lions while Joseph Younes also scored a TD. Peter Czachor kicked two singles and a field goal and Jakob Tomas had a two-point convert.

Brendan Perozzo and Nick Guardiero had singles for Bishop Mac.

While the Lions are unbeaten, they know they still have work to do.

“We’re really happy (with a 3-0 record), but we still see there is a lot to improve on,” Cummings said. “That’s a good team we played, but to come out and put 20 on them right away was something we can feel really good about. But I saw some of the similar mistakes made in weeks past, but I was really proud that the penalties were cleaned up.”

“We are literally beating ourselves on the field. If we get that sorted out, we can be the best team in this league,” Hamilton said. “It’s all about belief and as I told them today, as soon as you guys believe you’re a good team, you guys let me know because I know you’re a good team. We just need to believe that and just as soon as we do, we’re going to be lights out.”

 

Centennial 14 Lourdes 7

The Spartans weren’t looking beyond Thursday’s match with the thought that they could secure a spot in the playoffs with a win.

“We were just focused on winning this game,” Centennial coach Zach Pollari said. “Lourdes is a talented team and we’re definitely happy with the outcome.”

“I told the team after the game that they (the Spartans) are like a boxer and they’re eventually going to hit you,” Lourdes coach Joe Camilleri said. “They hit us once. That blocked punt sort of changed the game. They scored once, blocked the punt and went up 14-0 right after and we just couldn’t get back.”

Centennial’s Drake Davis had two touchdowns, both converted by Ben Lane, in the tight battle.

The first half was a scoreless affair while Davis’s first TD and Lane’s convert were the only points of the third quarter.

Zach DeCorso caught a TD pass in the fourth quarter for Lourdes while Nahome Ezra added the convert.

“It was so tight,” Pollari said. “A mistake here, a mistake there and the (windy) weather wasn’t helping some of our passes, but we got it done.”

“I was proud of the guys,” Camilleri said. “They battled hard today.”

The Crusaders also battled fatigue as their starters don’t leave the field often and most are two-way players.

“When we substitute from offence to defence, one guy comes off the field,” Camilleri said. “We’re playing everybody both ways. The talent that we have from our first string to our second string, there’s a mass drop off. We kind of have to push all our chips into the middle and say these are the guys that are going to win for us this year.”

While the game was scoreless for so long, the possibility that a single might win it started to loom large.

“We went for it when we were really close, but we thought about kicking a field goal just to get some point on the board,” Pollari said. “But at that point we were pretty confident that things were starting to click and we wanted to take advantage of every opportunity we could.”

While the Spartans are 3-0, all three of their games have been close ones and that could pay dividends in the playoffs.

“We are learning to deal with adversity and we’re learning to stay emotionally level through the ups and downs of the game,” Pollari said. “That’s really important to learn as a football team if you want to win big games.”