Battle of the Knights in senior NOSSA football final

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On the heels of a semi-final win last weekend, the St. Mary’s Knights will host the senior football NOSSA final on Saturday afternoon at Superior Heights

In some ways, it was years in the making.

When the St. Mary’s Knights step on the field on Saturday afternoon, they’ll be playing for a Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics senior high school football title.

A year ago, it was the Korah Colts who were playing for the title, one they would capture en route to a provincial bowl series win. The Colts beat the Knights in last year’s city final to get there.

After an early-season loss to the Colts, the Knights ran the table the rest of the way, including two wins over the Colts – one in regular season play before beating the defending champs in the city final.

On Saturday, the Knights will face Sudbury’s Lo-Ellen Park Knights in the NOSSA senior final at Superior Heights.

“We’ve been working at this for a few years,” St. Mary’s coach Jim Monico said. “We came up short last year. We came back and a lot of guys got fueled by the chance and that we fell short last year in the city. In that regard, a lot of guys are very determined to be successful.”

Monico added that the sting of losing in the city final last year was a source of motivation for the returnees on the Knights roster.

“At the city level for sure, I’ve heard a lot of guys reference the fact that they didn’t like how they felt after that final game last year,” Monico said. “That fueled a lot of our players.”

That said, Monico added the team took a game-by-game approach this season.

That included picking up a NOSSA semi-final win last weekend in North Bay against St. Joseph-Scollard Hall.

“We established the run early and were physical early in the game,” Monico said of the semi-final victory. “That allowed us to eventually throw the ball around and get the ball to guys like (Nate) Carter, (Jaiden) Trudeau, and (Jack) MacPherson. We established the run and we’re a pretty balanced team now. Being balanced now and being able to run a little bit better now is what makes us a better team than we were last year for sure.”

Monico said the Knights expect a tough battle from Lo-Ellen on Saturday.

“They look like they’re a good team,” Monico said. “They’re athletic. They’ve got some size. Their quarterback can really run and throw. We expect a pretty good tilt.”

Monico called Saturday’s final “a different challenge.”

“Korah was a heavy run team,” Monico said of the city final. “Lo-Ellen looks more balanced. A little more pass-heavy. We have to defend the pass more than we’ve had to do in a lot of years. Personnel-wise, we should have the guys that are up to the task.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s final is at 1 p.m. at Superior Heights.

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