Redcoats march to Tier 2 championship game
One year removed from a tough season, Andrew Scott finds himself getting ready to quarterback the Governor Simcoe Redcoats in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Tier 2 championship game.
The Redcoats earned that right to play in the final next week following a 16-6 semifinal victory Thursday over the Centennial Cougars.
“In Grade 9, we were great, but in Grade 10 we weren’t that good,” Scott said. “We went 2-4 and most of the guys didn’t have the experience. This year, we are working together, we have good chemistry and we have made it to the ship (championship).”
The 16-year-old said it’s a great feeling for his team to be in the finals.
“It is going to be a great game and we are all looking forward to it,” the Grade 11 student said.
Scott feels he made strides at quarterback in the last two seasons.
“It’s growing (physically), maturity, knowing football and watching football,” he said. “I have become a better player all-around.”
The Redcoats needed Scott to be at his best late in the third quarter Thursday. Simcoe was able to hang on thanks to a 52-yard pass completion from Scott to Mason MacEachern on the last play of the quarter. It took the Redcoats from their own one-yard line to midfield.
“That made a huge difference with the score where it was,” Brophy said. “They were only down by 10 and with us being on our own one-yard line, we were going to have to make some decisions.
“With that big bomb, he took that decision away from us.”
Brophy was happy with the victory, but knows his team won’t be successful in next week’s championship game if it plays like it did Thursday. The Redcoats turned the ball over six times and took 17 penalties for 135 yards.
“We were sloppy right from the beginning and I think our kids were over-excited based on it being a home playoff game,” he said. “Once a couple of errors happened, things sort of compounded and our kids couldn’t refocus.
“We made the plays when we needed to which was great, but a week of practice and a game that will be most likely away will really help.”
Scott felt his team’s play Thursday was the result of mental breakdowns.
“People were out of their heads sometimes and they just didn’t know what was going on, but a win is a win,” he said.
Simcoe went 4-2 in regular season play before defeating Centennial in the semifinals.
“The team has developed throughout the year and we are looking well as we head towards the future. We are also looking forward to next week,” Brophy said.
Centennial lost the game on back-to-back plays in the first quarter. On the first play, a Centennial punt returner tried to punt the ball out of the end zone rather than concede a single point. The ball ended in the hands of another Centennial player who tried a razzle dazzle lateral pass that was intercepted by Joe Fusek for a TD. On the ensuing Simcoe kickoff, Centennial fumbled and Simcoe’s Nicholas Langelaan returned the ball 25 yards to give the Redcoats what would turn out to be an insurmountable 13-0 lead.
“My wife is going to be happier than his (Simcoe coach Jamie Brophy),” Centennial coach Dom Nero said, right after the game.
Nero agreed the game turned on the aforementioned unfortunate Centennial plays in the first quarter.
“We played well in certain moments of the game and we let our heads get away from us on that punt return,” he said. “They were things that were uncharacteristic and we wouldn’t normally do those types of things.
“I think when they watch a lot of football and they see the guys in the CFL punt it out to avoid the single, they are not fully aware of what is going on.”
The one mistake was bad and the second one compounded the problem.
“We had a chance to come back and change our fortune but unfortunately that next play ended up being a fumble and they took it back for a touchdown,” Nero said.
Centennial went 1-4 in Tier 1 play before advancing to the Tier 2 semifinals with a win over Collegiate.
“At the end of the day, our numbers (of players at practice) stayed consistent and that was our goal for the year; to make sure people stuck around and our junior program stayed strong, and it did,” Nero said. “The hope is that that can carry us into next season.”
Finishing the way the Cougars did should help.
“Getting to this point was big for some of the guys and getting a couple of wins that we didn’t get last year helps,” Nero said. “That should make a difference, for sure.”
He is a fan of this year’s playoff format that saw the bottom two teams (Centennial and Grimsby) drop down and compete in the Tier 2 playoffs.
“I like how it works and it allows Simcoe to see how they stack up,” Nero said.
He feels Simcoe had the same skill level as Sir Winston Churchill in Tier 1 with the only difference being Churchill had a few more tougher and bigger Grade 12s and 12Bs.
“This (Simcoe) is a young program, but they accounted themselves very well,” he said.
Redcoats 16 Cougars 6
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s Player of the Game: Simcoe’s Joe Fusek, interception of lateral pass in end zone for TD and fumble recovery;
For the Governor Simcoe Redcoats: Joe Fusek, TD; Nicholas Langelaan, 25-yard fumble recovery return for a TD; Danny Lewis, 17-yard field goal and interception; Maddie Roberts, convert; Richard Cuthbert, fumble recovery.
For the Centennial Cougars: Caleb Pelletier, six-yard TD run; Josh Robbins, fumble recovery; Garvin Leavens, fumble recovery; Ethan Podetz, interception; Josh Boyle, interception.
Game stats: First downs: Simcoe 10, Centennial 12. Net offence: Simcoe 159, Centennial 172. Turnovers: Simcoe 6, Centennial 6. Penalties: Simcoe 17 for 135 yards, Centennial 9 for 50 yards.
Up next: Governor Simcoe advances to the Tier 2 championship game next Friday.