Lions roar to championship
Photo by Sean Allen, Brant News
Members of the Assumption College Lions senior football team celebrate their victory on Saturday.
Kicker Andre Toic would like to see what some of his Assumption College Lions teammates are talking about when they tell him stories about playing at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Lions captured their third-consecutive Brant high school senior football championship with an 11-3 win over the St. John's College Green Eagles on Saturday.
Toic believes Assumption can keep winning.
"This feels really good," he said. "But we want to take this all the way to the dome."
Toic was still a junior when some of his Lions teammates went to the Western Bowl championship game at the Rogers Centre in 2010.
"They say it was so awesome and they want to go back there again," Toic said. "I want to go, too."
To get to the big game, the Lions have two more hurdles to get past.
First, they will host a CWOSSA semifinal against the winner of Kitchener-Waterloo's high school football championship next Saturday. If the Lions win that game, they will then face the winner of a second semifinal in the CWOSSA title game, scheduled for Nov. 22.
If ACS can get through those two opponents, the school will compete at the Western Bowl on Nov. 27 in Toronto.
Taking on the Green Eagles for the local championship proved a difficult task on Saturday.
St. John's brought a stifling defence and led much of the game before a late Toic field goal gave the Lions a lead they would not surrender.
The game started much like a cautious chess match, with each team gaining minimal first downs on their first five possessions before Lions running back Chris Lewis broke loose for a big gain.
The Lions couldn't get into the Green Eagles red zone on the drive, but Toic kicked from the 33-yard line to give the Lions a single point and 1-0 lead in the second quarter.
With just over 2:50 left in the half, St. John's player Greg Roberts picked off a Lions pass and ran it 55 yards to the Lions' 20-yard line.
Mitch Santilli would kick a field goal to give the Green Eagles a 3-1 lead.
Lions coach Raj Saini said he was expecting a tough game, but not necessarily expecting a score that more resembled what one might see in a hockey arena.
"They always play us tough," Saini said. "We figured it was going to be a defensive battle."
Losing at halftime, the Lions turned to quarterback Austin Sault.
The Grade 12 player has been a leader for ACS all season, but injured his thumb in a semifinal game last week. Saini was being cautious when playing him.
"I knew if I didn't play I would regret it," Sault said. "Pain is temporary but if I didn't play I'd regret it forever."
Late in the fourth quarter, Sault hit receiver Anthony Powless with a long pass to the Green Eagles' 33-yard line.
Lewis pushed the ball into St. John's red zone and Toic kicked off the fourth quarter with a 14-yard field goal to give the Lions a 4-3 lead.
Sault later scored on a one-yard run with 44 seconds remaining in the game and Toic hit the convert to seal the victory.
Green Eagles coach Dave Millette said his players had nothing to be ashamed of.
"I am super proud of my guys," he said. "Obviously we would rather come out on top, but (Assumption) is a great team and to keep with them and make this game go down to the wire is pretty impressive."
Saini said his team will await the winner of the Kitchener-Waterloo championship. He isn't turning an eye to the Western Bowl just yet.
"I like to take things one game at a time," Saini said.