Lions continue to roar in CWOSSA quarter-final

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The District 10 football champion St. James Lions will get one more home game as they wasted little time staking their claim to a spot in the CWOSSA semifinals.

The Lions blanked the D1/7 champion St. Mary’s Mustangs of Owen Sound 39-0 Friday evening at Alumni Stadium in the lone quarter-final match.

“We were really impressed with the talent that they have,” St. James coach Jeff Cummings said. “We weren’t sure what to expect, but they’ve got some athletic kids. We felt even before half that it could’ve been a close game. They were ready to score. I thought it was a competitive game.”

That win gives the Lions a berth in the CWOSSA semifinals and they’ll host the D8 champion Resurrection Phoenix of Kitchener at Alumni Stadium Thursday. Game time is to be determined and it depends on the fate of the Guelph Gryphons in Saturday’s OUA championship Yates Cup game.

“Years ago we did the OFSAA game during the strike year, but technically this is the longest we’ve gone and this will be our first time moving this far down the line toward CWOSSA,” Cummings said.

The Lions received touchdowns from four different players (five TDs in all) and their defence shut down the Mustangs for the win.

St. James was up 16-0 at the end of the first quarter, 22-0 at halftime and 36-0 by the end of the third quarter.

Running back Tanner Nelmes had two of the TDs while QB Jakob Tomas had ran in for a TD and a two-point convert. Jose Martirena and Gabe Valedis also scored one touchdown apiece while Peter Czachor kicked a field goal and two converts. Rob Zetko also scored a two-point convert.

As the Lions are moving into the CWOSSA semifinals for the first time, one of the things they might have to deal with is nerves.

“It’s hard to say,” Cummings said. “We won our championship last week and we look at everything now as gravy. We’re excited. We want to keep winning, but the reality is that we have experienced kids who are driven and want to win each and every week. The message has always been to keep doing everything right and make the right choices. If we keep doing that, let’s see how far we can go.”

Resurrection gained its berth in the semifinals with a 20-19 victory over the St. David’s Celtics of Waterloo in the D8 final Thursday night at the University of Waterloo’s Warrior Field.

While Resurrection coaches were at Friday’s game to scout their semifinal opponents, the Lions didn’t hold anything back in reserve.

“It’s not hard to figure out who we are,” Cummings said. “Everyone knows what we do. We’re not going to surprise anyone and we’re never really going to hide too much. All year long we’ve been willing to show who we are. We practise onside kicks before the game. We don’t hide too much. Tanner Nelmes is going to get the ball a lot, we’re going to play tough D and then we’re going to see what happens.”

Thursday’s other semifinal, set for 3 p.m. at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School, pits the D5 (Brant County) champions against the D6/11 (Waterloo County) champions.

Brantford’s North Park Vikings and Assumption Lions are to meet in the Brant County final Saturday at 3 p.m. at North Park.

The D6/11 final between the Elmira Lancers and Jacob Hespeler Hawks is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Hespeler.

Semifinal winners advance to the championship game slated for Nov. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Hespeler.

The CWOSSA champion is to compete in OFSAAs Central Bowl Nov. 28 at 11 a.m. at Ottawa’s TD Place Stadium against Toronto’s St. Michael’s Kerry Blues of the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CISAA).