Spartans, Lions come back for date in D10 final

Spartans, Lions come back for date in D10 final

GUELPH – The Centennial Spartans and St. James Lions staged second-half semifinal comebacks Friday at Alumni Stadium to earn the right to play one another in the District 10 high school football league’s championship game.

Ethan Godinho of the Spartans scored a touchdown with just less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter as Centennial edged the Ross Royals in the first of the semifinals.

“This is my first final as a Spartan. This is amazing. This is surreal,” Godinho said. “Having been upset the last two years, obviously, seeing us down again, I felt like I personally had to step up and I feel like I did my part to get my team going as well. I’m so, so excited.”

The Spartans had lost to Ross in each of the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) after finishing ahead of the Royals at the completion of the regular season both times.

The Lions scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half to rally for a 16-10 win over the Bishop Macdonell Celtics in Friday’s nightcap.

“We weren’t concerned at all,” St. James cornerback Braden Dixon said. His play, including a key interception in the fourth quarter, was typical of the defensive play by both teams. “Defence and offence, we were having great drives on offence. Defence was stopping them consistently and that was great.”

The Spartans and Lions are to meet in the final next Friday at Alumni Stadium. Game time is 6 p.m.


Centennial 15 Ross 14

The Spartans scored two touchdowns in the second half to match the number of TSs the Royals scored in the second quarter.

Ross led 2-0 at the end of the first quarter, 14-2 at halftime and 14-9 after the third quarter.

“I was more fired up,” Godinho said of being behind at halftime. “This is when the captains and this is when the older guys, the people who have been here four or five years, it was our time to step up, our time to lead our team. I felt we did good coming right into the second. We let it down a bit again and at the end, I felt like we just kept going and I felt like that’s what really helped us get over this.”

Godinho scored the winning touchdown on a two-yard run to his right with 2:58 to go, the touchdown coming about two and a half minutes after he’d had a 30-yard TD run negated by a penalty.

“The one got called back and I was like ‘all right, adversity.’ You deal with that. I saw the gap. I was like ‘you know what? It’s third down.’ This is it or this is I’m gone. My last year, I just wanted to pound it. I found my hole and hit it as hard as I could.”

Godinho carried the ball for most of the plays on the winning drive.

“It was tiring, for sure, of course, but I love it,” he said. “It’s my job. Why play if I’m not going to get the ball? I got to enjoy what I can do.”

Centennial went for a two-point convert after Godinho’s TD, but were held out of the end zone leaving the Royals with a chance for a win with a field goal. While Ross did get the ball into Centennial’s end of the field in the final minute, the Royals didn’t get within field-goal range.

The win avenged Centennial’s loss to the Royals in last year’s semifinals.

Matthew Stam scored Centennial first touchdown on a 31-yard passing play with quarterback 14. Godinho kicked the convert.

The Spartans conceded a safety in the first quarter while Ross quarterback Tim Nixon scored the first TD of the game on a two-yard keeper play with just over three minutes to go in the first half.

Drew McQueen added the other TD for the Royals on an 11-yard run with 11.8 seconds to go in the opening half.

Charlie Thurtell converted both Ross TDs.

Centennial will be looking for its first D10 title win since a 16-14 win over Ross in the 2015 final. The Spartans also won the D10 crown in 1984, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996 (21-6 over the Lourdes Crusaders) and 2005 (33-21 over St. James).

“We’ve got to stay locked in in practice,” Godinho said. “Our practices, it’s getting colder so we’re getting a little bit of a decrease (in attendance). We need to hit that increase, we need to keep going. We need to strive for our full potential. And our flags.

“We need to avoid as many penalties as we can because we’ve been stacking up a lot of the passing game. We just have to eliminate those and keep working.”

The Spartans had finished the regular season in first place with a 5-0 record while St. James was third at 3-2. Centennial defeated the Lions 23-2 in the final game of the regular season Oct. 21.


St. James 16 Bishop Macdonell 10

The Lions avenged a 21-20 loss to the Celtics Oct. 6 during the regular season.

“We’ve lost to them in the regular season by one point and now we’re back,” Dixon said. “We made them out of the playoffs and now we’re going to the championships.

“We played a lot better. We didn’t start off slow. We came out as hard as possible and kept that.”

Nathan Holt returned the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards for the TD to kick start the comeback for the Lions. A two-point convert attempt failed.

Bishop Mac, using an attack that featured several short passes, had scored all of the first-half points in the opening quarter.

The Lions conceded a safety midway through the first quarter and Bishop Mac quarterback scored the game’s first TD on a seven-yard run to his left with 36.1 seconds to go in the quarter. The convert attempt was blocked by the Lions.

Running back Owen Ellis put the Lions ahead for good with a TD on a one-yard plunge on the final play of the third quarter. P.J. Fera kicked the convert. The TD had been set up on a long reception of a pass by QB 8 by Holt and a punt return by Lemalachi Betton.

Fera added a field goal with 1:57 to go in the game after a Bishop Mac drive was halted by the interception by Dixon.

“My coach kept telling me to go out wider and I did and the ball just came right to me,” Dixon said. “It was perfect.”

The other points for the Celtics came on the final play when St. James conceded another safety.

The Lions will be looking for their third D10 title, all coming since 2018 when they defeated Centennial 50-16 in the final. They won the championship of last year’s COVID-shortened season 23-7 over Ross on their own field.

“We have to work as hard as possible and really be confident about it,” Dixon said. “We have to just have a good week of practice.”

The D10 champion gets a bye into the CWOSSA semifinals where they’ll have a road game against the winner of a quarter-final between the D5 (Athletic Association of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk Counties) and D8 (mainly Kitchener-Waterloo Cambridge Catholic schools) champions at the home of the D8 champions.

The CWOSSA final is to be held at Alumni Stadium Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m.

The CWOSSA champion will advance to play in the OFSAA Football Bowls Festival at Alumni Stadium Nov. 28 to 30.

While the Guelph CVI Green Gaels played in the Western Bowl final in 2006, the only time a Guelph school has participated in an OFSAA bowl game, CWOSSA schools have competed in four of the six Central Bowls since its inception in 2015.

Schedule for the games in the OFSAA Football Bowls Festival has not been decided.


  • Guelph Sports Journal