Rivals showdown in final
St. Joe’s and Holy Trinity will be facing off in the SDG football championship game.
The two teams that battle each year under the lights in the Charity Bowl will have an afternoon showdown Friday for high school football supremacy in Cornwall and area.
The SDG championship game is at 1:15 p.m., and it pits a pair of perennially strong clubs, the Holy Trinity Falcons travelling across town to suit up at St. Joseph’s against the Panthers.
“It’s a good rivalry, and we’re really looking forward to the game,’’ said Panthers head coach Mitch Zappitelli. “(Falcons head coach Jeff McAllister) will have his team ready to play, and we always look forward to playing Jeff ’s team.”
The Panthers were 5-0 for the regular season, and they won their semifinal playoff game at home last week against the Cornwall Collegiate Golden Raiders.
The Falcons, 4-1 during the campaign, took care of business in their semifinal a week ago, eliminating the La Citadelle Patriotes.
Friday’s forecast calls for football weather, or at least what fans should expect over a week into November. The predicted high is 6 C, and there’s a very good chance of showers.
When the teams played in the Charity Bowl at Joe St. Denis Field in mid- October, hundreds of fans lined the sidelines at a high-energy event, with the Panthers recording a 24-6 victory.
“The Charity Bowl was not an easy game, it was a tough game,’’ Zappitelli said. “(The Falcons) were missing some of their best players, and they’ll be playing (Friday), so it’s going to be another good, competitive game.”
The Panthers also played under the lights in early October, winning the annual Rose Bowl game over La Citadelle 30-5.
The Panthers have had a lot of standout performers this season, including Jordan Millward, a receiver on offence and safety on defence, and running back Nolan Shane.
And while the offence often gets the loudest cheers in this sport, it’s the St. Joseph’s defensive play too that has had the Panthers confident all season they can get the job done on the gridiron.
“I’m very confident in our defence, our defence is very strong,” Millward said.
Brody Fairbairn is the club’s veteran quarterback, and Braeden Levac has done some powerful running out of the Panthers’ backfield.
The Falcons have Grade 10 student Ryan Stephen sat the quarter back position, and coach McAllister has been pleased with the play of a dual threat – the QB throws well and can pick up yardage with his running ability.
The Falcons also feature running back Nathan Van Putten – in his first year of playing competitive football – and big call carrier Charles Laplante.
“He’s got speed, and great hands,” said McAllister of Laplante, who’s also a threat as a receiver.
But as for the availability of some of those Falcons injured earlier this season? Don’t count on them being ready for Friday.
Joe DiStefano, a middle linebacker and offensive back, has been out much of the year, and that has really hurt the Falcons.
“He’s my best defender,” McAllister said matter-of-factly.
Slot receiver Jeremy Latour also is likely unavailable for Friday’s showdown – but not being at full strength is something the Falcons are used to.
The team’s motto this injuryplagued campaign?
“Overcome, overcome, overcome ... and in a lot of ways they have,’’ the coach said.
But do the Falcons have a chance to beat a good St. Joseph’s team on its home field in the final?
“We always have a shot,’’ McAllister said. “Really, they beat us with two big plays in the Charity Bowl ... St. Joe’s is always good, so it’ll be really tough.’’
It’s La Citadelle which won last year’s SDG championship game, 3-0 over the Panthers.