Calvin Van Santen of the Crocus Plainsmen is upended by Neelin Spartans’ Matt Mitchler during their Winnipeg High School Football League matchup on Thursday at Crocus Plains. The Plainsmen won 27-23. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
The Neelin Spartans did a good job of containing Crocus Plainsmen running back Victor St. Pierre in their Winnipeg High School Football League Kas Vidruk (AA) Division game on Thursday except for a 30-second span. That timeframe, however, cost them the game.
Trailing by three, league-leading rusher St. Pierre scored from three yards out to give Crocus the lead with three minutes left in the game. He recovered the ensuing squib kick and returned it to the Neelin five-yard line and punched it into the end zone two plays later as the host Plainsmen (4-1) earned a 27-23 win over the Spartans (3-2) in the battle of Brandon.
"We’ve been considered a second half team and this was a game I was not losing," he said. "I put my team on my back and did my thing."
St. Pierre finished the game with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
It was a tough game from start to finish with all the players fired up to earn bragging rights, which resulted in a penalty-filled affair.
Shea Godfrey opened the scoring on a 55-yard run for a touchdown on Crocus’ first possession. Neelin got on the board with a safety in the first quarter before quarterback Dustyn Lamont ran 30 yards for a touchdown in the second. Quinton Hunter couldn’t get the snap down on the convert, but ran it in for two points to give Neelin a 10-7 advantage at halftime.
St. Pierre scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter, but the Plainsmen’s lead was short lived as Brock Hiltner took the ensuing kickoff 69 yards for a touchdown. The defences dominated after that until St. Pierre played hero in the dying minutes.
Lamont hit Joe Waters for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds left in the fourth to close out the scoring.
Although his team came out on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Neelin head coach Robert Cullen felt the Spartans played a better game and that his players should be proud of their efforts.
"It’s not tough at all," he said. "I think the kids are taking it hard because it’s a cross-town rivalry and that’s the way they look at it. As far as I’m concerned, we came out and played a game and we made a couple mental mistakes that gave them the ball game."
Keegan Herperger and Matt Mitchler were both involved in 10 tackles for Neelin. Brock Hiltner and Nate were both involved in seven. Unger also had a sack.
Steven Siebrecht had eight tackles for Crocus, while Jordan Knott added seven. Tyler Ingraham had four tackles and an interception.
The win moves Crocus into full possession of first place in the Kas Vidruk Division, although St. Paul’s (3-1) has a game in hand that will be played today against Grant Park (2-2). Neelin falls into a four-way tie for second.
In addition to grabbing first place, Crocus clinched a playoff spot. Head coach Kevin Boyd is glad his team pulled off the win, but he doesn’t want his players to get too excited just yet as they have two more games left in the regular season, and both of them are on the road.
"You always want to win the cross-town rivalry game, so that feels good," Boyd said. "I have a bunch of buddies coaching at Neelin so you get to go back and forth bugging each other. It feels good. That’s the next rung and now we have to get ready for Garden City."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 4, 2013