TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Vincent Massey’s Matthew Bryant is gang-tackled by River East Kodiaks.
The Vincent Massey Vikings were starting to flounder in the third quarter of their Winnipeg High School Football League contest at Massey on Wednesday when Michael Bright stepped up.
Quarterback Evan Didychuk of the Vincent Massey Vikings looks to throw a pass during Winnipeg High School Football League action at Vincent Massey High School on Wednesday. The Vikings went on to post a 22-6 victory over the River East Kodiaks. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
After the Vikings conceded a safety touch to cut their lead to 8-6 and with the River East Kodiaks driving, Bright picked off a pass and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. That play gave the Vikings life and sparked them to a 22-6 victory.
"Sometimes in the game, someone needs to step up and be the hero and today was his day," Vikings head coach Mike Steeves said. "He came out clutch when things fell apart. … It really changes momentum. You’re giving up some points there, whether it’s a field goal or a touchdown and it breaks their spirit and it raises ours. We needed a hero in that part of the game and he was all over it."
Bright, who’s in Grade 12 and plays both receiver and defensive back, didn’t think much of the interception at the time. He just felt he was doing what he was prepared for.
"It was just me making plays," he said. "I was watching film. Coach (Kevin) Grindey prepared us well for what we’d be doing in certain situations and when it came down to it, we were all prepared and I knew there were 11 other guys there to bail me out if I missed the ball and I just went and made plays."
While Bright turned the tide in the third quarter, James Johnson carried the load during the first half. Dealing with a strong wind, the Vikings handed the ball to Johnson 17 times in the first half and he churned out yards and ate up the clock as Massey built an 8-0 advantage. He finished the game with 117 yards on 26 carries.
The defence also shone in the first half as the Kodiaks couldn’t get anything going on offence. River East quarterback Dan Mortimer, who leads the Kas Vidruk Division in passing yards, used the ground game to move the Kodiaks in the third quarter, but they were shut down after Bright’s interception.
Bright thought it was one of Massey’s best team games of the season.
"What really impressed me was how well the team played overall," said Bright, who also had one reception for 28 yards and two tackles. "Usually it’s the offence or defence that really wins the game for us, but today it was both sides of the ball really getting it done and shutting down the River East team."
Vikings quarterback Evan Didychuk went 4-for-12 for 41 yards and one interception on Wednesday. He also rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts. Matt Bryant had seven rushes for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Ty Kuz led the Vikings defensively with eight tackles.
While the team effort meant a lot to the Vikings, so did the victory. Both squads were 2-0 coming into the game, and the victory keeps Massey in first place in the Kas Vidruk Division.
The players are happy with their start to the season, but they know they haven’t accomplished their goals yet.
"We have first place, but we still have to play four more games," Johnson said. "It’s not good enough. We have to keep winning and we have to keep working."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 20, 2012