Knighted: St. Mary’s captures senior football title

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It’s been a while, but there’s a new champion in senior high school football.

The St. Mary’s Knights captured the city title on Friday night thanks to a 39-22 victory over the Korah Colts on a cool, rainy night at Superior Heights.

The victory by the Knights ends a run of supremacy by the Colts.

A pair of touchdowns in the third quarter in addition to a late field goal helped the Knights break open the game after struggling entering the half.

“We kind of botched the end of the half there,” St. Mary’s coach Jim Monico said. “We didn’t manage the clock very well. We had a bad punt, which is rare, because Nate (Carter) is such a great punter and then they scored at the end of the half there, but we were still up 15-14 and I thought we hadn’t played really well, so we were feeling pretty good (about leading).”

“The third quarter was really big for us,” Monico added.

Monico said “it took us a little bit of time to figure out what to do on offence, but we made our plays and the defence really stepped up.”

For the Colts, special teams and some big plays wound up being the difference.

“Their special teams are very good, and we knew that going in,” said Korah coach Tom Annett. “We took some chances, not punting on third downs to try to keep from their return guys. It worked a couple times, but other times it didn’t. That’s a big difference.”

“(St. Mary’s) made plays when they had to,” Annett added.

Annett agreed that penalties were an issue as well, but said he was proud of his team for the season they had.

“This team is as good as some that have won in the past,” Annett said. “It’s a year where we happened to have two of the top teams in the province in the same city. They’re a top ten team in the province and we are two. (St. Mary’s) definitely deserved this.”

Monico said his team had added confidence heading into Friday’s title game after beating the Colts late in the regular season.

The two teams split their regular season meetings, much like they did last season, though the Colts captured the 2022 crown.

“Last year they had a better team than us,” Monico said. “This year we had the better team. We knew by the way we beat them in that second game (this season) that it was going to be pretty tough for them to come up with something to beat us.”

Having coached a number of teams over the years into the senior city final, but coming out on the losing end, Monico said that, as much as he’s taking in the win, it was about the players.

“Honest to God, I’m more happy for the guys than I am for me,” Monico said. “This is a great team. We have so much talent. I’m just happy for the guys more than anything else.”

After the Knights got on the board thanks to a rouge midway through the opening quarter, Korah took the lead thanks to a 75-yard touchdown run by Nathan Guizzetti. The convert from Ty Koski made it 7-1 Colts.

St. Mary’s retook the lead when Matti Tucker hit Jaiden Trudeau with a pass and the latter proceeded to break down the sideline and in for a 33-yard touchdown. The convert by Nate Carter made it 8-7 Knights on the final play of the opening quarter.

Tucker extended the St. Mary’s lead in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run. The convert by Carter made it 15-7 St. Mary’s.

Korah pulled to within a point in the final minute of the second quarter. Guizzetti ran the ball in from 33 yards out and Koski hit the convert to make it a 15-14 game heading into the half.

The Knights capitalized on a pair of opportunities in the third quarter.

Harley Wardell caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Tucker to make the score 22-14 after a convert by Carter.

Carter then caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tucker and kicked the convert to make the score 29-14.

The Knights took a 32-14 lead into the fourth quarter thanks to a 15-yard field goal from Carter.

Kaylob Thibodeau scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the Colts cut into the St. Mary’s lead after a two-point convert by Ethan Carchidi.

Tucker capped off the scoring with a 32-yard touchdown run in addition to the convert by Carter.

Tucker finished the day with 50 yards rushing in addition to completing nine of 15 pass attempts for 172 yards.

Carter caught five passes for 58 in the win,

Defensively, Cian Derbowka had 11 tackles while Grant Matthewson had 7.6 taakles. Trudeau and Landen Trecartin chipped in with 6.5 tackles each.

Ethan Carchidi had 4.5 tackles for the Colts.

Guzzetti ran for 215 yards on 19 carries while Thibodeau ha d116 yards rushing on 17 carries.

The Knights advance to the Northern Ontario Secondary School Athletics senior semi-final on Nov. 4 against North Bay’s city champion.

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