‘Just another game’
Sure it is, only bigger, with more fans, at night, under the lights . . .
It’s a big game, the annual Charity Bowl under the lights. But it’s just another game. “That’s how you have to approach it — just another game,’’ said St. Joseph’s quarterback Brody Fairbairn at a Panthers workout on Tuesday afternoon, as the 2-1 team prepared for Thursday night’s showdown with the 1-2 Holy Trinity Falcons. “We just have to approach it like any other game, and go out there and be confident about ourselves.’’
The 11th edition of the Charity Bowl, held annually between the two Cornwall Catholic school rivals, has a start time of 6 p.m., at Joe St. Denis Field, and the Panthers have a few reasons to be confident going into it. They are, after all, the SD&G High School Football League playoff defending champs, winners of two straight Charity Bowls, and coming off a decisive road victory, 41-0 in Alexandria over the Glengarry Gaels.
But for quarterback Fairbairn, of Morrisburg, this is new territory. He’s never played in a Charity Bowl before; being just in Grade 10, Fairbairn is in his first season of high school football.
Playing under lights, and not exactly Molson Stadium calibre ones, presents its challenges for a passer too, but Fairbairn isn’t concerned about that.
“I’m not worried — it’s the same for both teams,’’ he said.
In that recent Panthers romp at Glengarry, Andrew Dore had a pair of touchdowns to lead the attack, Nolan Shane ran one in, and Fairbairn tossed for six points to Cole Fraser-Dupuis.
The defensive unit got in on the scoring too – Joey Brisson scored after making an interception, and Gabe Baker made a fumble recovery and recorded a major.
But it hasn’t entirely been smooth sailing for the Panthers so far in 2017.
St. Joseph’s had dropped its season opener, 16-8 at home to Cornwall Collegiate, before the Panthers found the win column against Tagwi, beating the Warriors 37-0.
The Falcons, meanwhile, showed signs of being a contender last Friday, in what would be a 24-7 loss at unbeaten La Citadelle.
The Falcons have weapons, to be sure, and their quarterback, Tyler Fisher, is a veteran, but Holy Trinity so far this season has been mistake and turnover prone.
“If we don’t execute (well), we’re done — it’s that simple,’’ Falcons head coach Jeff McAllister said at his team’s Tuesday workout. “The last two games, it’s been really poor fundamentals.’’
But McAllister was preaching an upbeat message at practice. He knows that on paper, at the very least, the Falcons have the makings of being a formidable squad.
“I just need all of you guys to have the game of your lives (Thursday), that’s all I need,’’ McAllister said with a smile while overseeing a drill for receivers and backs.
Last year’s 10th Charity Bowl was a defensive thriller won 10-7 by the Panthers, and the contest’s decisive play came midway in the third quarter.
St. Joseph’s, down 7-3, punted away the ball, and it would be misplayed by the Falcons, with Panthers player Nathin Hickman pouncing on it in the end zone.
It marked the Panthers’ second straight win in the big game, with Holy Trinity having won three straight, from 2012-14.
Overall for the Charity Bowl, St. Joseph’s has a 6-4 advantage.
So far, it’s looking like it’ll be a splendid evening to play and watch football on what should be a dry surface. Thursday ’s expected daytime high under brilliant sunny skies is forecast to reach 17, dropping after dark and ultimately settling at a crisp overnight low of 4.
Falcons head coach Jeff McAllister makes his point while quarterback Tyler Fisher makes a throw at a Tuesday afternoon workout at Holy Trinity.