NRHSAA football: Format; Myer tops GFESS
There is a simple reason why the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association has grouped all its senior football teams into one league in 2021.
“We are trying to save programs,” NRHSAA football convenor Sandy Wilkes said. “We really want to keep football going and we only have three junior teams this year (Westlane, Myer and Greater Fort Erie) compared to four before COVID. And people don’t want to play each other five times in a season.”
Making up the senior league will be Tier 1 schools A.N. Myer, Westlane, Greater Fort Erie and Sir Winston Churchill and Tier 2 schools Eden, St. Catharines Collegiate, Centennial, Grimsby, Thorold and Governor Simcoe.
Each team was ranked based on how it did in 2019 and the three top-ranked Tier 1 teams will not play the the three bottom-ranked Tier 2 squads this season.
“Collegiate will not have to face Myer or Westane or anything like that,” Wilkes said.
Each team will play five regular-season games and then the top four teams will play semifinals and then finals for the Tier 1 title. The winner of the NRHSAA Tier 1 championship will move on to play the representative for the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association.
The bottom six teams will see the fifth- and sixth-place teams in regular-season play will earn a bye. Teams seven through 10 will play quarter-final games to see who advances to the Tier 2 semifinals.
A schedule has been set but no one should be surprised if changes are made during the season because of changing pandemic conditions or other issues.
One major issue that is a concern is a shortage of football officials.
“Two years ago, they had a 110 officials to draw from and he has only got 60 now,” Wilkes said. “Last (Tuesday) at four o’clock I received a text saying that things were not looking good for tomorrow.”
At 8 p.m. that night, Wilkes asked when he needed to cancel games. At 10 p.m., he received a text that the assigner had made 30 calls and had lined up two crews.
“Normally we have four games at any time slot on any day and this year we were told three,” Wilkes said. “But that is definitely in jeopardy given the number of officials that are available.”
In NRHAA games last week: Govenor Simcoe blanked Thorold 48-0; Churchill dumped Grimsby 41-7; Westlane defeated Eden 35-14; Centennial defeated Collegiate 43-8; and, defending champion Myer beat Greater Fort Erie 42-14.
Marauders 42 Gryphons 14
Myer quarterback Drake Somerville led the way for the Marauders completing 10 of 12 passes for 152 yards and five touchdowns.
Joshua Hicks caught 31-yard and 11-yard TD passes and single TD grabs were made Quin Douglas (25 yards), Tyler Goforth (10 yards) and Alex Walters (25 yards). Goforth added a rushing major.
Among those playing well defensively for Myer were linebackers Arden Martinez, David Arevelo and Josh Horton, and safety Eugene Park.
For Greater Fort Erie, Kaiden Craft had a two-yard TD run and Bryson Donald ran one in from 80 yards out.
“Myer is a fast, athletic team that is well coached and executes very well. If you make mistakes, they capitalize,” GFESS head coach Dave Sauer said. “We showed our rust and they jumped on us from the start. Our offence really struggled to convert first downs and we put our defence in tough situations.
“We knew tackling would be tough and it was tough to compete with their speed. We did find some things out from that game and we focus on the positives. We will regroup this week and get ready for Churchill on Thursday.”