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Winnipeg High School Football League Championship

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News

Junior varsity football champions crowned

The Oak Park Raiders scorched the turf at wintry Investors Group Field on Tuesday night — and now are the 2017 Winnipeg High School Football League’s junior varsity champions.

Relentless on both sides of the ball, the Raiders scored early and often, cruising to a 44-6 triumph over the St. Paul’s Crusaders in the Home Run Sports Bowl on a chilly evening in Fort Garry.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>St. Paul's Crusaders JV Quarterback/Punter Matthew Carl goes down in the end zone after trying to recover a fumbled punt under the grip of Oak Park Raiders Defensive Lineman Jake Lotocki at Investors Group Field, Tuesday.</p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSSt. Paul’s Crusaders JV Quarterback/Punter Matthew Carl goes down in the end zone after trying to recover a fumbled punt under the grip of Oak Park Raiders Defensive Lineman Jake Lotocki at Investors Group Field, Tuesday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Crusaders quarterback Lucas Van Norman lies under a pile of Oak Park Raider defenders.</p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSCrusaders quarterback Lucas Van Norman lies under a pile of Oak Park Raider defenders.

Stadium staff loudly scraped snow from the stands during the game, preparing for the CFL’s West Division semifinal between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday. But the gridiron kids from Oak Park were the early stars of a huge week for the WHSFL, which holds its championship games Tuesday through Thursday.

It’s the Raiders’ third title since 2010 for players in Grades 9 and 10.

“It’s fantastic. This is a really, really dedicated group of kids,” said head coach Stu Nixon, whose team was 5-1 during the regular season. “They all work very hard, they’re kind of mature for their age. They earned it.”

Running back Rhyland Kelly scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, while Devlyn Kilmister scampered for a 68-yard major just 30 seconds into the second half and added two more TDs before the final whistle. Niall Reid also scored a touchdown on a short run.

After surrendering two early TDs to Kelly and a safety, the Crusaders rallied with a pair of solid drives resulting in field goals and trailed 16-6 at half.

Kilmister said he wanted to be a difference-maker in the second half.

Just two plays in, he busted through the line and sprinted from his own side of centre field and headed for the house, leaving a crew of Crusader defenders well behind.

“I really wanted to break out on a big run. We changed up our formation a little bit and I guess I caught their defence off-guard,” Kilmister said. “Once I cut back to the right side, I saw nothing but open field.

“This was a great game for our entire team, offence and defence. They had no touchdowns scored on our D, so that’s really what got us going.”

Linebacker Brendan Allan’s fumble recovery at the St. Pauls’ five-yard line set up Kelly’s first TD. After a quick two-and-out by the Crusaders, Oak Park struck for another major less than three minutes later when quarterback Oliver Spencer orchestrated a fake field goal and tossed to Kelly from just one yard out.

Allan said it was mission accomplished for the defence.

“It’s us as a unit, we have great chemistry. We all care about each other and have each others’ backs,” Allan said. “I don’t think we were going to let this slide. We wanted this so badly.”

Isaiah Hirst kicked the field goals for St. Paul’s, one from 23 yards out and another from the 18-yard line.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPJasonBell Read more by Jason Bell .


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<p>St. Paul's Crusaders Michael O'Shea takes the ball through the Dakota defence Thursday evening.</p>
PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

St. Paul’s Crusaders Michael O’Shea takes the ball through the Dakota defence Thursday evening.

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