Bulldog Tyred of losing
The A.N. Myer football field is where the Sir Winston Churchill senior football team’s championship aspirations come to die.
In the 2019 Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 1 championship game, Myer blasted the Bulldogs 52-0. Following the 2020 season lost to the COVID 19 pandemic, it was more of the same championship heartbreak for the Bulldogs. The Marauders won 22-13 in 2021 and 47-26 in 2022.
“I have been part of both teams going against Myer in the championship. My first year I didn’t see the field as much as I wanted to,” Churchill running back/linebacker Ty Kostyniuk said. “I came back last year, got more time on the field but I didn’t see the result I wanted. It has been eating at me all year so I have been waiting to get back at it.”
The losses have haunted the 17-year-old St. Catharines resident.
“It is that feeling that sits in the back of your mind every day that you come to school and you walk past the football room or the field. You think about what you could have done, what you should have done and I don’t want to live with that any more. It is not a good feeling to live with and you want to live with the feeling that you are the first team to beat Myer in the game,” the Grade 12 student said.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder is admittedly obsessed with that goal.
“I have ‘Beat Myer’ written on the chalkboard in my room for two years. It’s across the whole thing.”
He has worked hard to try and change the outcome this season.
“I have been in the gym every day and I come to the field to work with all my boys and do all I can. I have been working with Mr. (Donnie) Marshall personally via text message, explaining what I see and what he sees so we can build an offence that is going to be most effective for us. I have also working with our defensive coach, coach (Scott) Hill, and coach Curtis (Nielson) to build a defence that is going to be able to stop Myer’s crazy offence.”
He believes there is a different feeling around the team this season.
“We have the drive man. We condition every day and we have the ‘want it’ attitude. Other teams they walk into Myer and think, ‘We are going to lose. We are going to lose’ and they think that the entire time. We walk into Myer saying, ‘We are going to beat them today.’ If you don’t believe that, it is never going to happen.”
He knows it won’t be easy. The Marauders are a perfect 36-0 in NRHSAA play since the NRHSAA and the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association split into two associations in 2017. Prior to that, the Tre Ford led Marauders had won three straight Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ bowl games and had not lost a league game since late in the 2014 season.
“It will take practising every single day. We have guys who come out every day and work hard no matter what,” Kostyniuk said. “Rain, shine, hot and cold. And we had guys in the gym giving everything. We had guys quitting their jobs for this and guys quitting their main sport to play football to make a legacy that will last a lifetime.”
Churchill head coach Peter Perron is a big fan of his player.
“He has a good football IQ, he works hard, he doesn’t quit, he provides team leadership and he is a great athlete. He is extremely positive and he is like having another assistant coach on the team.”
The Bulldogs are much different than 2022.
“We’re not a team of superstars like last year where we had three major leaguers,” Perron said. “I like us because we are more of a Bulldog team. We have some bigger guys on the line that we didn’t have in past years. I may have had the odd 235 or 240 but this year it’s 260s. The running game is stepping up more.”
Brady Pupek and Quinn Johnston have graduated to Western and Justin Savoie is now suiting up for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The Bulldogs have Dylon Flook at quarterback. He has played sparingly the past season in the role of backup.
“He is picking up where Quinn left off,” Perron said. “He had had some reps and we have worked with him since touch football in the spring. He is going to be as ready as he can be.”
The Bulldogs have 44 players on their roster which will increase to 47 with the addition of three recently-approved 12B students. The Bulldogs will boast five or six 12B players compared to only one last season and plenty of Grade 12s.
“Every year I say that we will be competitive and you are going to have a game match with us. Can we win it all? If we work very hard and stay committed like we are now we will take our shot at the city final again and take a shot at the top,” Perron said, “The wheels could fall off depending on the composure and the rookie-ness of the team but what I have seen at practices so far we are well ahead of where we thought we would be. Because we don’t practise all summer, we tend to finish strong at the end of the season. Right now where we are at, we are starting stronger than we ever have because of the nature of the athletes we have.”
A lot will need to go right for the Bulldogs.
“We have to be conditioned, we can’t make any mistakes and we have to keep our spirits high,” Perron said. “If we keep our spirits high and do what we are taught, we will be very competitive. And it will take effort and hard work.”