COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Vincent Massey’s Tyler Rowan looks for an opening in the Oak Park defence.
Despite having win-and-you’re-in-the-playoffs situations in each of the past two weeks, the Vincent Massey Vikings will miss the post-season in the Winnipeg High School Football League’s John Potter (AAA) Division.
The Vikings (1-6), in their new white uniforms, closed out the regular season at home on Friday with a 37-7 loss to the visiting Oak Park Raiders (3-4). A victory would have given the Vikings the eighth and final playoff spot in the division, but instead they had to settle for ninth and the end of their season.
"It’s really tough," said Viking safety Rory Ponto after finishing the final football game of his high school career. "It’s my last year and we made it every other year. Moving up (to the Potter Division) was good competition."
Cassidy Obijiaku scored Massey’s lone touchdown on a 54-yard reception from Thomas Moroz to give the Vikings a 7-5 lead after the first quarter, but things went south after that. The Raiders grabbed the lead for good on the first play of the second quarter when Dustin Hamm scored on a 16-yard scamper. That was set up by an interception late in the opening frame.
The Raiders took complete control of the game late in the quarter as running back Xavier Prime had an 18-yard run for a touchdown. Oak Park quarterback Ethan Diakow closed out the quarter with a 50-yard jaunt to give the Raiders a 27-7 advantage.
"It was just them making good plays," Massey head coach Mike Steeves said. "Throughout the first half we killed ourselves with hundreds of yards of penalties and they hung in. You know what? They’re a good team. You can look at those players, they’re provincial players and they’re stars on those teams and they’re the best players in the province."
Ponto finished the game with six tackles and two assists for Massey. Ty Kuz added five tackles, two assists and forced one fumble, while Steven Gresl had two tackles and three assists.
Obijiaku had two receptions for 77 yards and rushed twice for 16 yards. Gresl added 18 yards on four carries.
Moroz finished 8-for-15 for 127 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Jace Mills caught two of those passes for 38 yards.
Although Steeves was disappointed that his team failed to reach the playoffs, he is taking a lot of pride in being the first Brandon team to compete in the highest division of high school football in the province.
"So much pride," Steeves said. "You feel sad that they didn’t have the season they could have if we were down a division, but to have the honour to play against the best teams in the province, to compete against the best athletes at this level, for them it’s an honour.
"And a few years down the road when they get to look back on it they’ll think it’s an honour."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 19, 2013