Wild finish puts an end to football season for Lions

GUELPH – A missed field goal keyed the winning play for the Resurrection Phoenix of Kitchener in their 12-7 win over the District 10-champion St. James Lions in CWOSSA high school football semifinal play on a snowy Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.

“I’ve been in some crazy endings, but that one was one of the craziest and most confusing endings I’ve ever had,” St. James coach Jeff Cummings said.

Resurrection’s field-goal attempt from about 37 yards with 15.6 seconds to go was on line, but it came up short, bounced and struck the goal post before the Lions recovered. That fortunate bounce left the Lions with first down on their two-yard line. Had the Lions been able to field the ball in the end zone and get it out, they would’ve been given a first down on their own 20 and that would’ve sealed the victory for them.

“Did it hit the upright? Did it go in the end zone? Was it no yards? Why are we even on the two-yard line? Questions – crazy questions,” Cummings said. “Everybody is kind of sitting and scratching their heads now.”

The Lions tried to run the ball on first down, but lost a yard. They tried to run again, but coughed up the ball at the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Resurrection’s Jackson Lewis pounded his way into the end zone giving the Phoenix the win with three seconds to spare.

“Why can’t we take a knew at the one-yard line? We were told it would be a safety, ” Cummings said. “There are 12 inches between the one-yard line and the goal-line. We can certainly take a knee and then it returns to the one-yard line.

“It was a comedy of errors at the end of the game and I have no idea how to explain some of it. All I can say in the end if ultimately they won the game. They beat us and we’ve got to live with it. We’re going to leave with our heads held high.”

The TD was Lewis’s second of the game as he had opened the scoring in the first quarter. The Lions blocked the convert attempt.

St. James tied it up when Tanner Nelmes found the Phoenix end zone midway through the fourth quarter. Peter Czachor kicked the convert.

“It was a good season, but unfortunately we couldn’t get away with this one,” Nelmes said.

The weather was a factor as it basically took away the passing game for both teams. That left it being a running contest between Nelmes and Lewis who had the majority of the touches for their teams.

“I think it took a little bit of Tanner away, too,” Cummings said. “He’s a kid that’s amazing in any condition, but it’s hard to get footing on a field like this. It’s hard to make quick cuts.”

“The snow was just balling up in your feet and almost turning into ice instantly so that was sort of a factor,” Nelmes said. “You couldn’t really make any sharp cuts at all. That kind of made it hard to run the ball, but at the same time hard to tackle somebody.”

Of course, the conditions were the same for both teams and Resurrection seemed to handle it a little better. The Phoenix had possession longer than the Lions, but stalled when they reached the St. James 30.

“Everybody was experiencing the weather out here,” Nelmes said.

“They seemed to move the ball quite a bit better than us,” Cummings said. “They were very formidable moving the ball.”

Although the loss was disheartening for the Lions, they’ll likely feel good about the season when they get to thinking back on it. After all, they became their school’s first ever D10 football champions.

“I’m trying to stay in the moment of the accomplishment,” Cummings said moments after giving his one-field, end-of-game talk to his players. “The kids won District 10. They have played their hearts out the last two weeks after that championship. The disappointment of today is real because I think we know how good we are, I think we know that some things went against us today and we’re not too happy about that. But I told the kids we’re going to wake up the next day and it’s OK because we laid it all on the field and if you do that, you’ve got to feel good in the morning.”

Resurrection advances to play the Jacob Hespeler Hawks in Tuesday’s CWOSSA final at Hespeler. Game time is 5:30 p.m. Winner will face Toronto’s St. Michael’s Kerry Blues in the Central Bowl at Ottawa Nov. 28.

Hespeler defeated Brantford’s North Park Trojans 14-5 in Thursday’s other CWOSSA semifinal.

  • Guelph Sports Journal