Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, Nov. 20


 

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'(Posted 10:30 a.m., June 5)
St. Matt's pulls off upset, wins first junior football crown in school history
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Matthew Tigers captains hoist the junior football championship trophy in the air after beating the St. Peter Knights 22-5 at Minto Field on Friday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


It's been a long time coming, but the
St. Matthew Tigers have finally won their first junior boys football championship after posting an impressive 24-5 win over the previously unbeaten
St. Peter Knights on Friday.

Heading into Friday's season finale, the Knights had not lost in 14 previous games dating back two years. The winning streak included a 22-16 win over the Tigers in the first game of the season. Ever since then the Tigers have been been playing and winning with one sole purpose -- revenge.

On Friday they not only got their revenge, but they did so in impressive fashion pushing
St. Peter's vaunted defence all over the field. They also made enough big plays on defence to keep the Knights in check for most of the afternoon. In a nutshell, they were better prepared and a whole lot hungrier than their east end rivals.

The Tigers didn't waste anytime getting on the scoreboard. After forcing the Knights to cough up the ball on the first play of the game, they promtly scored their first touchdown on a one yard run hy Justin Ryan.

St. Matt's would go up 14-0 later in the first quarter on a perfect pass from Johnson to Ben Rozman who beat the defender on the play and ran it into the end zone.

The Knights then came up with a big play of their own when Phil Wakim, who was subbing for the injured Jake Molinski at quarterback, threw a 60-yard pass to Jaylen King, but the Tigers defence stood firm and St. Pete's had to settle for a field goal.

After the Tigers conceeded a safety in the second quarter, they managed to march down the field once again. A 25-yard punt return by Johnson gave the Tigers excellent field position on the Knights' 52-yard line. On the very first play from scrimmage, Johnson hooked up with Rozman for a 30-yard completion to the 22 yard line.

St. Peter Knights quarterback Phil Wakim barely escapes being hauled down in the end zone by St. Matthew defender Julien Dasilva. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Just when it looked like St. Matt's would blow the game wide open, the Knights forced the Tigers to fumble ball on the 11-yard line.

On the final play of the first half, the Knights' Will Kafeero returned a punt 75 yards before Kyle Sharpe finally tracked him down on the 10-yard line to end the threat.

Following the half-time break, the Knights tried to capitalize on a long punt return by King, but the drive stalled on the Tigers' 33-yard line. Rather than go for the first down on third and two, they attempted the field goal which went wide right. That would be as close as they would get to getting back in the game. On the very next series, the Tigers marched the ball downfield using a 25-yard pass from Johnson to Rozman to set up several impressive runs by tailback Justin Ryan.

The 90-yard drive was capped by a seven yard toss from Johnson to Rozman who spun around after making the catch and stretched the ball out across the goal line.

St. Pete's would get one more chance to narrow the deficit, but their drive was cut short when Nick McCloskey intercepted the ball and returned it to the Knights' 25-yard line. Rather than attempt a field goal, the Tigers lined up in punt formation and kicked the ball through the end zone for the single point and a 22-5 lead, which is how the game ended.

As the game clock wound down, the Tigers counted down the final three seconds before exploding onto the field to celebrate their improbable victory.

No one was happier than Tigers' head coach Al Rozman, who claimed his first city championship as a high school coach in 21 years.

"We've been in so many close semi-final games that you start to wonder if it's ever going to happen, but this is great feeling. The kids really played an excellent game," said Rozman who chalked up the win to basic execution. "We were the better team today. We executed extremely well and we never allowed them to play their game."

After the Tigers were presented the championship trophy for the first time, quarterback Teron Johnson spoke about their opening season loss to the Knights and how big a factor revenge played in the rematch.

"It was a huge factor. The whole season was about getting back here and beating them," said Johnson. "When we came out hard and scored on our first possession, I knew we were ready to play.`

The Tigers and the Knights will be able to resume their rivalry next fall after the NCSSAA decided to switch the junior season back to the autumn after a two year experiment.

The St. Matthew Tigers celebrate after downing the St. Peter Knights 22-5 on Friday to win the school's first ever junior boys football championship. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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