For the second time in three seasons, the Assumption College Lions senior football team is headed to the big show.
The Lions punched their ticket to the Rogers Centre for the Western Bowl championship with a 17-9 victory over Guelph’s J.F. Ross Royals on Thursday at Assumption College field.
“We had some film on them so we knew they would be running the ball,” receiver Aaron Zuwala said. “We executed on everything we had to.”
This will be Zuwala’s second trip to the Rogers Centre with the ACS team.
“I was called up in Grade 10 to go to the game,” he said. “I didn’t play, so I’m looking forward to going back.”
Zuwala isn’t the only Lions player with experience on the big stage.
Running back Chris Lewis led the Lions in rushing during the team’s 2010 Western Bowl appearance and receiver Anthony Powless led the team in receiving yards.
Lewis and Powless were Grade 11s when the ACS team lost 48-23 to the W.F. Herman Green Griffins from Windsor.
Now Lewis and Powless are third-year senior players.
“I think we are more prepared this time,” Zuwala said. “Hopefully we can bring back (an Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association) title.”
The Lions will meet the winner of a game on Friday between the Green Griffins and London’s St. Thomas Aquinas Flames.
To get past the Royals on Thursday and secure a third-straight Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship, the Lions relied on the steady running of Lewis.
Lewis carried the ball for 155 yards on 24 rushes, helping set up scoring drives but also keeping the ball in the hands of his offence for extended periods of time.
It was on the Lions’ second possession of the game that a couple of big gains by Lewis set up quarterback Austin Sault’s six-yard touchdown pass to Powless with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
Assumption made it 10-0 by halftime, with kicker Andre Toic hitting a 34-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Aaron Zuwala evaded two tacklers and dove to the end zone to finish a 12-yard passing touchdown from Sault just four and a half minutes into the second half. Toic hit his second convert of the game.
The Royals had the wind at their backs for the fourth quarter and made the most of it.
Guelph forced the Lions to take a safety to start the quarter and then scored a touchdown with 7:27 left in the game to make it 17-9 after a convert.
But Assumption’s Wyatt Martin took the wind out of the Royals’ sails with an interception at the three-minute warning.
Josh Tait, Drew Tlustos and Levi Jamieson also had big games for the ACS defence, combining for 10 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles between them.
The Western Bowl will be televised on RogersTV Cable 20 in Brantford at 10 p.m. on Tuesday following an OHL hockey game. The game will be played at 5 p.m. at the Rogers Centre.