Tro­jans de­fend crown

De­spite three fum­bles, Gananoque Tro­jans win fourth foot­ball ti­tle in six years

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - JONATHON BRODIE

The Gananoque Tro­jans foot­ball team and weather had a lot in com­mon dur­ing Fri­day’s EOFC cham­pi­onship game – nei­ther were re­ally that pretty and at times both were slip­pery.

Tro­jans Grade 12 run­ning back Matt Dono­van was the slip­peri­est of them all as he was able to break more than a few tack­les to fin­ish the game with three rush­ing touch­downs on way to his team win­ning 29-13 over the North Grenville Knights on home turf in the Leed­sGrenville foot­ball fi­nale.

The ug­li­ness for Gananoque, un­de­feated this sea­son, came in the fact they had three fum­bles re­cov­ered by North Grenville.

“(The fum­bles) def­i­nitely wor­ries me. You won’t get away with fum­bling the ball that many times that of­ten, so we’ll try to clean it up,” said Tro­jans coach Chad Haffie. “Fum­bling has been a lit­tle bit of our is­sue all sea­son long. I don’t know what we’ll be able to do in two prac­tices, but hope­fully the weather is a bit bet­ter and we can def­i­nitely hold onto the ball next time.”

Mother Na­ture couldn’t make up her mind through­out the game with clear con­di­tions, wind, rain, and some wet snow ap­pear­ing over the course of less than two hours.

Gananoque’s de­fence, how­ever, was a lot more con­sis­tent. Their de­fen­sive line won most of the bat­tles in the trenches and didn’t give up many rushes for more than five yards. The Tro­jans de­fen­sive backs were equally im­pres­sive and broke up a lot of passes that looked like they were go­ing to be caught by Knights re­ceivers.

De­spite Gananoque’s of­fence and spe­cial teams turn­ing over the ball a few times, the Tro­jans de­fence made sure the er­rors were never too costly.

“Be­fore the year started we knew our de­fence was go­ing to be our strong spot,” said Haffie. “Just as a pro­gram we start with our de­fence and make sure our de­fence is strong and then see what we can do on of­fence.”

While you would have went into the game ex­pect­ing mostly some ground-and-pound with the wretched weather, it was a catch by Gananoque’s Brae­den Oat­way where he man­aged to es­cape a tackle and go down the field 50 yards that opened the scor­ing with four min­utes left in the first quar­ter.

While Gananoque had more turnovers, the Tro­jans made the Knights pay on the few big mis­takes they had. Gananoque was go­ing to punt since they were six yards away from a first down at about mid-field in the sec­ond quar­ter. North Grenville ended up get­ting caught off­side, so the Tro­jans de­cided to roll the dice with them only need­ing one yard for a first down af­ter the penalty. The gam­ble ended up bring­ing a huge pay­day with Dono­van go­ing up the mid­dle and run­ning for a 53-yard touch­down.

The Knights got the points right back when Dakota Boal sprinted down the side­line on the pro­ceed­ing kick­off to score an 80-yard touch­down to make the score 15-6 for the Tro­jans.

Gananoque didn’t get a first down on their next se­ries. The Tro­jans punter mis­han­dled the snap when he went to punt and North Grenville started their next drive in great field po­si­tion. A hand­ful of plays later and the Knights had cut into the lead even more with a three-yard rush­ing touch­down late in the sec­ond quar­ter. That was the only time the Tro­jans de­fence gave up any points from some­thing that wasn’t even re­ally their mis­take.

On the next kick­off, Gananoque, who was re­ceiv­ing, scur­ried away from the ball and North Grenville picked it up on an on­side kick that the Knights spe­cial teams didn’t even look like they were try­ing to do. A late hit by the Tro­jans on the kick­off re­sulted in the Knights start­ing their drive at about Gananoque’s 20-yard line with 15 sec­onds left in the sec­ond quar­ter. This time, though, Ganan­qoue’s de­fence stood tall and held onto the lead for their team, which is where it stood for the rest of the game.

Dono­van tacked on two more rush­ing touch­downs in the sec­ond half to round out the scor­ing, while North Grenville’s of­fence had trou­ble mov­ing the ball and gain­ing any kind of mo­men­tum.

The win only fur­ther ce­mented Gananoque’s dom­i­nance in foot­ball in the area by de­fend­ing their crown from last year and win­ning their fourth ti­tle in six years.

“Gananoque is, ob­vi­ously, a very small school, but foot­ball is the sport a lot of the guys lean to­wards,” said Haffie. “We have a very ded­i­cated foot­ball pro­gram and a lot of the kids come up through our youth league in Gananoque that help them de­vel­op­men­tally.”

The Tro­jans will play next Thurs­day against the St. Joseph Pan­thers, win­ner of the Corn­wall crown. The Pan­thers beat the Holy Trin­ity Fal­cons 27-12 in the Corn­wall fi­nal Fri­day.

JONATHON BRODIE/The recorder and Times

Gananoque Tro­jans run­ning back Matt Dono­van rushed for three touch­downs against the North Grenville Knights dur­ing the EOFC cham­pi­onship game Fri­day in Gananoque.

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