Griffins, Saints are high school football champions
First time in decades for Thomas A. Stewart senior, St. Peter’s junior teams
History was made at the Kawartha high school football championships on Saturday.
The Thomas A. Stewart Griffins won their first Kawartha senior title in 23 years and the St. Peter’s Saints juniors won their first in 43 years.
The Griffins edged the Crestwood Mustangs 15-10 and the Saints defeated the Holy Cross Hurricanes 23-10 in the first-ever football final between the city’s two Catholic schools.
All four teams advance to COSSA. On Wednesday, the Griffins will host the Quinte AAA rep while Crestwood travels to Belleville for the AA final. Times are to be confirmed.
On Thursday, the Saints host a Quinte team for the AAA title at 1 p.m. while Holy Cross heads to Belleville for the AA final.
The Griffins were 6-0 in regular season play and beat Crestwood 37-7 in the opening week. The final was much closer.
“It’s the first time this year someone has played tough against us and we responded by playing tough right back,” said Griffins coach Jeff Challice. “It was a really good game and we’re really happy with the outcome. It’s the first time in a long time TASSS has won senior Kawartha.”
Griffins co-coach Vik Kulla presented Crestwood coach Shane Oldfield with the game ball after the game. Oldfield is retiring after more than three decades coaching high school football. Kulla noted he’s won many championships and given countless hours to help young students.
Oldfield praised his players after the game and reminded them they still have an opportunity to win their final game.
“We really believed we could do it,” said Oldfield. “I’m really proud of the guys for their accomplished because we got whupped the first time we played TASSS. We weren’t ready to play at all. This time the guys really stepped up and showed they could compete.”
The Saints continued their unbeaten season, their most successful since resurrecting their football program 18 years ago.
“I did a little digging and it’s the first time in 43 years and our first chance to go to COSSA in a long, long time,” said Saints coach Christian Vesnaver. “I’m happy for our guys and the school. It puts some light on them. It’s good to build some character. They’re a close, tightknit group.”
It had been seven or eight years since Holy Cross had been in a final, said coach Bond Bjorgan.
“I think it’s healthy for Peterborough football and Peterborough high school football to have some teams who haven’t been here in a while,” said Bjorgan. “Traditionally, you might see Crestwood, TASSS or Adam Scott in these games. For two new teams to get that opportunity is good for the league.”
Holy Cross drew within 15-10 early in the fourth quarter when Hayden McIlmoyle caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from QB Brett Bjorgan. McIlmoyle also kicked the convert and a firsthalf field goal.
The Saints responded on their next possession when Carson Harvey scored on a lengthy quarterback scramble. Jamie Hubble scored a two-point convert.
The Saints opened the scoring with a rouge and trailing 3-1 late in the first half Hubble capped a long drive with a short TD run. Harvey also scored on a 30-yard sweep. Spencer Watchorn ran the ball in for a two-point convert.
In the senior game, a bad snap over QB Kurt Cantello’s head on a third down led to TASSS getting the ball on the Mustangs’ 13. Jake Zajac took QB Kal Sager’s pitch and ran it in for a 7-0 lead, after Zajac’s convert, 4:40 into the game. The only other point in the half was a Zajac rouge.
After a lengthy drive Crestwood fumbled the ball on the Griffins’ four-yard line recovered by Noah Thomson. TASSS missed a similar opportunity when Mike Guirestante intercepted a Sager pass on the Mustangs’ one-yard line.
With 3:11 left in the third quarter TASSS failed on third-andone run to turn the ball over on their 15. It led to a Zach Aucoin field goal.
Crestwood fumbled on their 27 early in the fourth quarter and the Griffins took advantage on Kyle Milburn’s 24-yard TD run to go up 15-3 after Zajac’s convert. The Mustangs closed within five points with 2:28 left when Cantello connected with Owen Petersen on a nine-yard toss to cap a lengthy drive.
Trevor Davis converted. Crestwood recovered a subsequent on-side kick but the Griffins’ defence held.
St. Peter's Saints' Jamie Hubble finds a hole against Holy Cross Hurricanes during Kawartha High School Junior Football final action Saturday at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School. The Saints won the junior final.