TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Matt Bryant of the Vincent Massey Vikings breaks through the Churchill Bulldogs defensive line on Friday night.
On a day when the Vincent Massey Vikings football team was honouring their past, they made history themselves.
The Vikings (1-4) earned their first-ever win in the Winnipeg High School Football League’s John Potter (AAA) Division on Friday with a 35-14 victory over the visiting Churchill Bulldogs (0-5). At halftime, the Vikings inducted Geordie Lancaster (a player from 2001-04), Jason Newton (a player from 2000-03) and Marston Grindey (the team’s photographer since 1997) into their Hall of Fame.
It was a great day for Vikings football, and one receiver Cassidy Obijiaku will remember for a while.
"It feels great," he said. "We’ve been a bit on edge for most of the season and today just our whole team was pumped that we had the Viking Classic and we were just ready to play. We were ready to make history. I feel really good about it."
The Vikings came out firing offensively and jumped out to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter courtesy of four-, six- and one-yard touchdown runs by Matt Bryant. Quarterback Thomas Moroz added a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to make it 28-0 at the break.
Getting the offence rolling was big for Massey, which managed only seven points in its first three and a half games but has scored 57 points in the last six quarters. Vikings head coach Mike Steeves credits their recent success to simplifying the offence and getting the ball into the hands of the team’s key playmakers, including Obijiaku.
The 16-year-old receiver had a quiet season coming into Friday’s game with only four receptions for 98 yards. He easily had his best performance of the year Friday by hauling in four passes for 132 yards. He found the end zone on a 55-yard connection with Moroz in the third quarter and added 79 yards on seven rushes.
"We had a lot of good chemistry today," he said. "That was a big difference. Sometimes our chemistry was a little off or we were getting mad at each other. Today it was all good. … I’ve been feeling like I’ve almost been letting my team down for most of the season because of my lack of yards and receptions. I feel a lot better after today."
Bryant finished with 168 rushing yards. Moroz was 6-for-11 passing for 171 yards and a touchdown.
Eugene Lwanga had six tackles, while Ty Kuz added four tackles, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. Connor Mills also made four tackles.
Not only was the win big for the Vikings to move them out of the Potter Division basement, but it puts them in contention for a playoff spot. Vincent Massey is now tied for the eighth and final playoff spot with the Sisler Spartans, who host the Vikings next week.
Now that his team has the confidence to win, Steeves hopes they can secure a playoff spot and make a run for the league title.
"We don’t want to go into the playoffs and get beaten," he said. "We want to be competitive. We don’t want to just go in there to say we were in the playoffs, but we just have to keep getting better. Last week we had a great effort in the second half. We’ve had some signs of life early on in the season, but tonight we put it together and they’re a good team and we battled hard."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 5, 2013