St Joe's Celtics provincial run ends against Austin O'Brien Crusaders

St Joe’s Celtics defenders Carter Yaceyko (#1) and Jayden Sak take a bite out of a Notre Dame Cougars running back during exhibition action at CKC Field back in September. Despite a third-quarter TD by Sak, the locals dropped a 47-26 game to the Austin O’Brien Crusaders in the Tier II North regional semi-final game at CKC Field on Monday afternoon. Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune

Share Adjust Comment Print

For the St. Joe’s Celtics, it was all about a spirited second half come back that ultimately fell short.

The local Tier II high school squad dropped a 47-26 result to the Austin O’Brien Crusaders in the North Regional semi-final at CKC Field on Monday afternoon.

The Celtics were in an unfamiliar position—one not witnessed in these football parts since last year—as they were on the wrong end of the scoreboard, trailing the Crusaders 31-7 at the break. The last time the Celtics were second place in a game with highly significant meaning was last November, the Lloydminster Comprehensive Barons held a 16-7 lead after 24 minutes in the Tier II north final.

The club certainly came out inspired for the third quarter when it would have been easy to rest on the laurels of a successful football season, winning a sixth straight Peace Bowl.

But that’s not how the Celtics operate. Local success is nice but provincial success is how this team defines its place in the football hierarchy.

“From such a group of young (players) we have at St. Joe’s, I thought it spoke volumes for the entire group and the leadership we saw from our Grade 11 and 12 players in the locker room,” Prichard said. “(The players were saying), ‘Let’s not let this get away from us; let’s claw our way back into this game and have some fun.’And that’s what we got in the second half.”

And while the was a communal type-effort attached to the second-half resurgence, Prichard noted the energy and buoyancy the players displayed when they sprinted out for the second half was mainly a player driven concept. The players huddled around each other in a tight circle and started jumping up and down in perfect syncopation with their rhythmic chants, before sprinting on to the field to start the third quarter.

“I think it was combination (of both players and coaches) but, ultimately, it came down to them and what they said to each other in the locker room,” Prichard said.

Take your chances

Third quarter touchdowns by Jayden Sak and Xander Matheson—who hauled in a long pass from quarterback Cade Labrecque—cut the lead to 32-20 after 36 minutes of play.

“Just before we got to the 12-point differential, I said to Labrecque, ‘We have four possessions, we have four possession left and we have to score on these four possessions to win this football game.,’” Prichard said. “We scored on (the Matheson catch) and failed on three (others).”

Sure enough, the Crusaders rallied to outscore the home side 14-7 in the final quarter, to seal a journey to the North Final, while the Celtics were left to console each other on the sidelines after the comeback fell short.

“The second half spoke volumes about the character and the integrity of the players,” Prichard said. “I’ve watched young people quit for less than that, at times. Being down by (24 points) at halftime, that could be looked at as an insurmountable lead and they battled, they had fun and they proved they weren’t going to go down without a bit of a fight. We had chances to win that game and it wasn’t because of a lack of effort, that’s for sure.”

Simple respect

Prichard is football coach who is always respectful and complimentary of the opposition and the loss didn’t change that.

“(The Crusaders are) a big, tough, nasty (team) with big boys on the field and they ran the ball extremely well,” Prichard said. “I thought it was a good game all the way around but they kind of had some tools on their team that we didn’t and they outmatched us on (Monday).”

Comments