Eagles go out on top
The Grimsby Eagles brought a little bit of home with them for the school’s final football game ever.
Head coach Zach Silverthorne and his captains dug out a box of turf from the football field at Grimsby Secondary School and brought it along with them for their Niagara Regional High School Athletic Association Tier 2 football championship showdown versus the Governor Simcoe Redcoats Thursday night at Sir Winston Churchill.
Whether the dirt had anything to do with the Eagles dramatic 10-7 win isn’t clear, but what is certain is the Eagles went out on top, capturing their third title in four years.
“We dug up a chunk of turf because we had home field advantage and we couldn’t play at home so we brought the home field with us,” Silverthorne said among the post-game bedlam on the field. “The boys thought that was pretty cool.”
Grimsby and Beamsville Secondary School will close after this year with the opening of the new West Niagara Secondary School.
Grimsby quarterback Xavier Zatylny said the team knew exactly what was at stake in the school’s final game.
“Every practice, (we said) this is our last year and we’re going to go out and do our thing,” Zatylny said. “We just did it and the boys are happy but we’re going to come back to the new school and do the exact same thing.”
The significance of the victory was certainly not lost on Silverthorne either.
“To come back as the final game for Grimsby as we move on to the new school, it’s storybook,” he said. “They have a great story for the rest of their lives.”
The disappointment of the loss aside, Simcoe head coach Jamie Brophy was thrilled to be part of a memorable final that saw both sides of the field lined with hundreds of fans.
“It was a phenomenal experience for our kids,” he said. “You get to play right to the last whistle. You’re playing in November, with a little but of snow under a starry sky and a full moon, you can’t ask more for a football game.”
The Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Ty Kellar booted a 20-yard field goal to culminate a drive that took up the better part of the first quarter.
“I can’t believe we came out and did a 10-minute drive only to get three points,” Silverthorne said. “(I was thinking) that better not come back to bite us in the ass.”
That was it for the scoring until the third quarter when the Redcoats went up 7-3 on a controversial touchdown by Ryan Segato. Simcoe quarterback Danny Lewis’ pass to Segato, which fell short, was called a lateral when it clearly appeared to be a forward pass, in which case the play would have been blown dead as an incomplete pass. Segato, to his credit, quickly scooped up the ball on a short hop and scampered into the end zone.
The Eagles took the lead with 1:45 to play when Zatylny scored on a 10-yard quarterback keeper.
“We had blockers, that’s what we do,” Zatylny said. “We have the best O-line in the league. We came down and I knew right away when I got the snap we were scoring.”
The Redcoats then proceeded to march down the field on the ensuing kick off and were within two yards of taking the lead as time was running out but a crucial mental error cost them as the Eagles held their ground, stuffing Redcoats running back Keyontae Hart for a loss on third down.
“Our quarterback was told it was second down so he didn’t look over to the sideline and it was third down,” Brophy said. “It was just an error in judgment —not by him —if we would have had a time out left we would have called one but we didn’t have one left.”
Silverthorne tipped his cap to the Redcoats.
“We’ve been coaching again Broph (Simcoe coach Jamie Brophy) since West Park. Every game is 23-21, 10-7, 15-14, 16-13. We know what it’s going to be,” he said.
Brophy felt the season was a success.
“I’m ecstatic. The great numbers from the beginning was huge. Getting kids out to practice, the excitement around the school, it’s a great way to build for our school and for the program.”
Eagles 10 Redcoats 7
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Xavier Zatylny with the game-winning touchdown.
For the Grimsby Eagles: Zatylny 10-yard TD run; Ty Kellar convert, 20-yard field goal.
For the Governor Simcoe Redcoats: Ryan Segato 10-yard TD catch from Danny Lewis; Lewis convert.
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