Big plays propel Myer to championship
Football championships are won by big plays made by a team’s top players.
The A.N. Marauders 22-13 victory over the visiting Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 1 championship game Thursday night was the product of two such humongous plays.
The first defining moment came on the last play of the third quarter with Myer clinging to a 15-7 lead. Churchill gambled on a third down and goal from the Myer two-yard line and Marauders linebacker Arden Martinez made a great tackle inside the one-yard line. Three running plays later Myer was sitting on its 30-yard line and Marauders quarterback Drake Somerville handed the ball off to Tyler Goforth. Goforth produced an incredible, tackle-busting 80-yard TD run to give his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“He is a special player and dynamic and we are trying to get the ball in his hands more and more,” Myer head coach Dave Buchanan said. “He’s around for another year and hopefully we are going to see him at the quarterback position.
“He is a good kid, he’s talented, he works hard, is coachable and that is all the things you want in a player.”
The Grade 12 student knew his play was a big one.
“That got us fired up and we needed that,” he said. “We were looking a little slow but the energy was there and that just brought it out in everybody. We just kept rolling from there.”
Goforth likes being described as dynamic.
“It’s being able to go out there and make a play when I need to make a play,” he said. “Throw the ball, run the ball, catch the ball, just make a play to help the team.”
Goforth is looking forward to getting to throw the ball next season as Myer’s next quarterback.
“That’s going to be fun,” he said. “I can throw it pretty good. Don’t worry.”
The 5-foot-9, 145-pounder has been using this year to learn from quarterback Drake Somerville.
“He is an amazing quarterback and I am learning as much as I can from him. He has great arm strength and reads.”
Thursday’s game was hard-fought battle and much different that the two teams’ regular season game on Oct. 21. On that day, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 21-3 lead before Myer roared back with 35 straight points en route to a 38-27 victory. The final outcome in Thursday’s game was in doubt until the game’s final minutes.
“It was an amazing game,” Buchanan said. “You would like to win by a lot but I have full appreciation for what they are doing at Sir Winston. They gave us a great game, they have great players and that’s what we need.”
Too often in the last few years, Myer hasn’t been challenged in NRHSAA play and it has come back to bite them in the game against the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association champion.
“The DSBN league is improving every year and that has continued to move us and everyone forward,” Buchanan said. “We don’t want anything easy. It’s not that our players aren’t good. Other teams are preparing and they have great players and great coaching.
“Everything is improving and we have to be on our A game and that’s the way football is supposed to be.”
Goforth has an explanation for what made this Myer team a champion.
“All the work we have done in the off-season has brought us all together,” he said. “This is our family and everything is for the guy beside you. There are no selfish plays and we won as a team tonight.”
Myer also wins the battle of practice repetitions every year.
“We train an unbelievable amount and I don’t thing it is even close compared to other teams,” Goforth said. “We train all summer and after this season, whether we win or lose, the week after the last game, off-season training will begin right away. It’s non-stop and it pays off. And no one is complaining.”
The team’s motivation is simple.
“It the trophy we just got. That is the motivation and there is another trophy next week.”
Myer went 5-0 in regular season play and defeated Westlane 35-0 in the semifinals. Churchill went 4-1 in the regular season and dumped Eden 49-13 in the semifinals.
“We’re building from where we were two years ago to a point where we’re competing with them,” Churchill head coach Peter Perron said. “I have a varsity team, a lot of Grade 9s and 10s that don’t get a lot of playing time, but they don’t quit. They stick and they learn and now they’re seeing what you have to do to win.”
Perron felt Myer’s speed was the difference.
“They just out-hustled us for part of the game and when we hustle, we do well. They just out-hustled a little bit on some of the stuff and that was the killer for us,” he said.
“We had our opportunities. A touchdown that was questionable and one guy didn’t go on when we were kicking a field goal. You add 10 points to this game, we win by one.”
Perron gave Myer full credit for the victory.
“They’re a well-coached team. They’ve been going at it for a while so they know what they are doing. They deserved to win.”
And the Bulldogs aren’t too shabby either.
“We weren’t going to go down. This team has some character. They worked out and trained over COVID time. We came back and said, ‘We’re not backing down from nobody. We’re not afraid of anybody.’ ” Perron said. “We can compete with anybody in this league. Unfortunately, the score is not on our side today. Some of these guys are taking it real hard. I have to help them de-escalate a bit and move on from there because they put their hearts and souls into this this year.”
Marauders 22 Bulldogs 13
Cat’s Caboose Players of the Game: Myer’s Tyler Goforth with a game-changing 80-yard TD run and Churchill’s Brady Pupek with a pair of TD catches.
For the A.N. Myer Marauders: Goforth, TD; four-yard TD run by Alex Walters; eight-yard TD pass from Drake Somerville to Josh Hicks; 13-yard field goal by Hicks; blocked field goal by Arden Martinez; fumble recovery by Owen Twose; sacks by Jack Hunter-French and Javier Vanderwalt.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: 35-yard and 29 yard TD pass from Ryan Cormier to Pupek; on-side kick recovery by John Engel; interception by Janal Williams;
Game stats: First downs: ANM 15, SWC 11. Net offence: ANM 403, SWC 277. Turnovers: ANM 2, SWC 4. Penalties: ANM 9 for 72 yards, SWC 5 for 30 yards.
Up next: Myer advances to play the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association champion Nov. 18.