SSNS 2023 Football Championships

November 20, 2023 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News

Auburn Drive High School 31 – 6 Bay View High School

Sydney Academy 31 – 35 Lockview High School

N.S. HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: Ayres Perry scores three touchdowns as Auburn Drive soars past Bay View

Glenn MacDonald

The Auburn Drive Eagles celebrate their second Nova Scotia High School Football League championship in three years after defeating the Bay View Sharks 31-6 in the final Sunday afternoon at Huskies Stadium. - Glenn MacDonald / The Chronicle Herald
The Auburn Drive Eagles celebrate their second Nova Scotia High School Football League championship in three years after defeating the Bay View Sharks 31-6 in the final Sunday afternoon at Huskies Stadium. – Glenn MacDonald / The Chronicle Herald

Ayres Perry wanted redemption.

The Auburn Drive senior receiver had contracted COVID just days before the Eagles’ Week 3 meeting with Bay View. The Sharks smothered the Eagles 16-0, propelling them to first place in the regular season and a No. 1 seeding in the Nova Scotia High School Football League playoffs.

Perry was champing at the bit prior to the teams’ showdown in the championship final Sunday afternoon and the all-star receiver delivered, scoring three touchdowns in the Eagles’ 31-6 rout at Huskies Stadium.

“I went into that game in the middle of battling COVID,” recalled Perry, the championship final MVP. “I was barely playing that game. I had a really rough game, probably the worst game in my whole life. So, I just erased that from my memories. We also didn’t have our starting running back or a starting linebacker in the game. We figured it’s a whole different game and put it behind us. We knew we could beat these guys and we did it.”

A first-quarter rouge by Auburn Drive accounted for all the scoring through most of the first half. That was until Eagles quarterback Jake Wamboldt dropped back and found a sprinting Perry bolting down the middle of the field for a 70-yard touchdown reception with 2:04 left in the second quarter. Auburn Drive held a 7-0 lead at halftime.

Wamboldt and Perry connected again on a screen pass late in the third quarter which the receiver rumbled 20 yards for the major and a 14-0 Eagles advantage.

On the Eagles’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Wamboldt went back to the well with Perry and found his favourite receiver up the middle and Perry did the rest, racing to the end zone on an 82-yard TD reception with eight minutes remaining to put the Eagles ahead by three scores.

“I knew my speed would take me there and I trusted my boy Jake to give me the ball so I just took off,” said Perry, who was the Nova Scotia high school league’s special teams MVP this season.

“After we scored the first one, coach came up to us at halftime and said we’re running it again. Later in the half, I looked at Jake like I was saying, ‘you know where I’m going to be.’ And he’s like I got you. He put the ball in the same spot, and it was the same result.

“Jake and I have great chemistry. I’ve played N.S. football with him since U16 and he was one of the people who welcomed me warmly to Auburn (after transferring from Dartmouth High following his Grade 10 year). He’s been there the whole time for me. The last two years have been a ride. I love that guy.

“But I gotta thank my coach for that play. It’s a great one.”

Grade 12 offensive lineman Noah Wells had a front row seat as the dominant duo put on a show.

“They are just phenomenal athletes,” said the six-foot-six, 305-pound Wells, a league all-star.

“Jake just stepped back and fed it in the air right into the arms of Ayres, not once but twice. They’re both dogs out there every single game. And I got to watch them front and centre. It’s an honour to block for them.”

While the offence was clicking, the Eagles’ defence neutralized Grade 12 quarterback Owen Aucoin. Auburn Drive sacked the Division 1 league MVP three times, including two by Jayden MacLean. His second sack came with 2:20 left in the fourth, a devastating hit on an unexpected Aucoin which knocked him out of the game with a suspected shoulder injury.

The Sharks’ only score came on a late quarterback sneak by backup Peyton Flint with 15 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles’ Elliott Dawood returned it for a major with eight seconds left.

“Our defence is the best in the league, no question about it,” Wells said. “We also have the best offence and that’s why we should have been the No. 1 team coming in here today.”

During his high school career, Wells won as a Grade 10 rookie – a 30-20 victory over Bay View in the 2021 final – and was involved in the Citadel Phoenix’s 39-0 thrashing of the Eagles in last year’s championship.

He’s thrilled to close the curtain in the winner’s circle.

“Last year, 39-0, that just didn’t sit right with all of us,” Wells said. “We needed to win today. But it wasn’t going to be easy. The Bay View Sharks whooped us earlier in the year. They punched us square in the mouth. We had to get it back and give it back to them.

“I’m so proud of this team. Guys were locked in.”


Championship Sunday: Sydney Academy Wildcats searching for first-ever high school football title this weekend

Jeremy Fraser 

The Sydney Academy Wildcats offensive line prepares for a drill during a team practice at Open Hearth Park in Sydney earlier this season. The Wildcats will play for the Division 2 provincial title this weekend against Lockview High School in Halifax. LUKE DYMENT/CAPE BRETON POST
The Sydney Academy Wildcats offensive line prepares for a drill during a team practice at Open Hearth Park in Sydney earlier this season. The Wildcats will play for the Division 2 provincial title this weekend against Lockview High School in Halifax. LUKE DYMENT/CAPE BRETON POST

SYDNEY, N.S. — When the Sydney Academy Wildcats football program began 10 years ago, Lorne Burke and his staff knew winning a championship would take time. 

In the early days, the program saw a mixture of football players and regular athletes who wanted to give the sport a chance – and the growing pains were felt.  

“We knew it was going to be about five years to build the program,” said Burke. “High school football in Nova Scotia is very competitive.” 

Since then, the program has evolved and is receiving more players who play the game through the Football Cape Breton minor program, which has become a feeder system for the Sydney Academy team. 

In recent years, the tide has been turning for the Wildcats team. They’ve managed to secure their spot in three of the last four Division 2 high school provincial championship games.  

This weekend, the Wildcats will play in their fourth championship game when they take on the Lockview Dragons of Fall River on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Huskies Stadium at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.  

The game will be broadcast live on Eastlink Community TV on channel 10 for Eastlink subscribers. 

Sydney Academy and Lockview met during the Nova Scotia High School Football League regular season in week 7. The Wildcats held a 7-4 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Dragons scored late and took the game 11-7. 

“Some of their top guys weren’t in the game and some of our top guys weren’t in the game,” said Burke. “I think everyone is going to be in the game on Sunday so it’s going to be interesting.”  

The Wildcats were missing running back Payton Barter, who Burke considers to be the team’s most valuable player this season, for the game against Lockview. 

Last weekend, Barter rushed for 283 yards and scored all four of the team’s touchdowns in a 28-14 victory over Woodlawn in the league semifinal in Dartmouth.  

Barter will be in the Wildcats lineup for the championship game.  

Burke acknowledged the Dragons and coach Mike Korecki, who was an offensive lineman for the Saint Mary Huskies during the days of Larry Uteck as the team’s coach. 

“Lockview’s offensive line is very strong and we know that,” said Burke. “They know us well and both teams are kind of built the same way – heavy run teams.”  

The football program at Sydney Academy has never won a provincial title. Last year, the club lost to Woodlawn in the championship game 21-13, despite leading the game late.  

Last year, the Wildcats beat the Dragons in the semifinal to advance to the championship game. The one year they didn’t make the final in recent years came as a result of a loss to Lockview in the semifinal.  

“We have a great history with Lockview in the playoffs,” said Burke. “We have to limit the mistakes. We found this year that we didn’t really lose many of our Tier 2 games based on not being able to compete with the teams, but rather mistakes that we made. 

“Against Lockview, they scored all of their points off our turnovers. We had a fumble punt and they ended up kicking for a field goal and then they had an interception late in the game and that turned into a drive where they scored a touchdown.”  


  •  Teams: Sydney Academy Wildcats vs. Lockview Dragons
  •  When: Sunday
  •  Where: Huskies Stadium, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax
  •  Time: 5 p.m. 
  •  How To Watch: Eastlink Community TV (Channel 10)

The Sydney Academy team, who finished the regular season with a 2-5 record, considers the championship game as an opportunity to redeem themselves from last November’s final. 

“It’s more about the excitement for another opportunity, I wouldn’t call it revenge,” said Burke. “We knew there was going to be some growing pains this year and we did experience that, but we’ve overcame it and looking at the teams in the playoffs that we competed against, we felt that we were very competitive and could win this.”  

Regardless of the outcome, Burke said the team was able to accomplish at least one of its goals for the 2023 season and that was to make it to the championship game. 

“Because we played in the Tier 2 championship game last year, we knew our schedule would be difficult this year because we’re considered to be one of the top Tier 2 teams, meaning we have to play at least two Tier 1 teams in regular season,” he said.  

“We will be in that situation again next year, but things are looking good for the Sydney Academy program next year. We have 10 seniors graduating from 50 players.” 

Sydney Academy and Lockview won’t be the only high school football provincial final scheduled for Sunday at Saint Mary’s University.  

The Division 1 championship will feature the Bay View Sharks of Upper Tantallon and the Auburn Drive Eagles of Westphal at 1 p.m. at Huskies Stadium. Like Sydney Academy and Lockview, the game will be broadcast on Eastlink Community TV. 


HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Bay View Sharks hoping ‘bounce back’ season ends with a title

George Myrer 

Bay View Sharks quarterback leads his team into the Nova Scotia High School Football League championship game against the Auburn Drive Eagles on Sunday at Huskies Stadium. - Mark Kays Photography
Bay View Sharks quarterback Owen Aucoin leads his team into the Nova Scotia High School Football League championship game against the Auburn Drive Eagles on Sunday at Huskies Stadium. – Mark Kays Photography

Evan Brown said it’s been ‘a nice bounce-back year’ for his Bay View Sharks football team.

That may be a bit of an understatement by the third-year coach, whose team went 6-1 and cruised into the Nova Scotia High School Football League championship game with a 37-0 victory over the Horton Griffins.

“It’s funny how one year can change so much,” said Brown, a former quarterback with the Sir John A. Macdonald Flames, before the Upper Tantallon high school was renamed.

“Last year was a bit of a down year for us. We didn’t win any games against Division 1 teams at all. It was a weird year. We were littered with injuries and whatever we tried ended up backfiring.”

The 2023 season has been mostly up for the Sharks, whose only loss came against the Cobequid Cougars.

“This year has been the opposite of that. Everything seems to have fallen in line, knock on wood,” said Brown. “We have been healthy for the whole season, which has been great.

“We have a really strong group of Grade 12s and a good group of Grade 11s behind them. This is a year we have been eyeing for a great opportunity to do something special.

“We are a really solid group. In high school football, it is rare when you don’t have many holes and that’s been the case for us. Right across the board, we have great athletes and a lot of size. We have some Grade 12s in key offensive positions. I coach the offence and we have five starters who have been starters for three years now. They started in Grade 10 and are now reaping the rewards from some of the beatings they took last year.”

Standing in the way of a ‘special’ season for the Sharks are the Auburn Drive Eagles, who held off the Citadel Phoenix 21-18 in the other semifinal. The Sharks defeated the Eagles 16-0 in the only matchup between the teams this season.

Title rematch

The title game on Sunday (1 p.m.) at Huskies Stadium is a rematch of the 2021 championship game between the two teams.

Bay View went into the 2021 final as a huge underdog against the Eagles, who had won their previous nine games in a dominating fashion that season.

Brown was in his first season as Bay View coach and remembers the championship game vividly.

“The was my first year with the team,” said Brown, who played quarterback at Acadia University. “They were a dominant team all year.

We were actually up in the fourth quarter, which was our goal to give them a challenge that they hadn’t had all year to see if they could handle the adversity. And they stepped up to the challenge, came out in the fourth quarter and exploited some mismatches that we couldn’t handle.”

The Eagles scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 30-20 victory to cap a perfect 10-0 season.

Drawing from that experience, Brown knows being the favourite doesn’t mean much of anything at game time. Plus the fact that Auburn coach Dion Thomas-Hodges has his team in the championship game for the third consecutive year.

“This year, it’s a more evenly-matched game,” said Brown. “They are very athletic with lots of speed. They are a team that if you take a play off, they will punish you for it. They have some guys that can score from anywhere on the field. It is a concern, but the other side of that is as solid as we are, hopefully, we can keep those big plays to a minimum.”

The Sharks are led by Grade 12 quarterback Owen Aucoin, who started as a rookie in the 2021 championship game. Aucoin has many targets, including running back/ receiver Ty Boone and receivers Jase LeBlanc and Des Crawford. The offensive line is anchored by Luke Stanley and Quinn MacDonald.

“Owen is our QB, a three-year starter who had a fantastic year, all-star of the league. We have Ty Boone, a fantastic athlete who can do everything. He’s our go-to guy when we need a play. I could list off so many players because it’s a solid group.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Bay View is led by linemen Romaine Randall, and Keldon Axhorn, linebackers Owen Luedee and Sam Lecker-Evans and defensive back Drew Kinley.

The Eagles are led by all-purpose star quarterback Jake Wamboldt, who has scored touchdowns on kick returns, receptions and passing this season, and receiver Ayres Perry, who had 10 majors.

On defence, the Eagles have several big-play contributors. Defensive lineman Tyree Williams had 19 sacks, while defensive backs Kurrell Johnson-Thompson, Isaiah Boutin and Kayden Fraser combined for 11 interceptions and linebacker Elliot Dawood had 60 tackles.

Back home

Brown is enjoying coaching at his hometown school with several former Sir John A. Macdonald players.

“I coached for seven years at Dalhousie and then came home. I live in the area here, and it’s nice to be back in my community.

“There are a handful of guys who also went through the (Sir John A. Macdonald) program who are back with me now. We have a good mix of coaches who understand the history of the program and some people who came in with an outside view.”

Note: The Division 2 championship between the Lockview Dragons and Sydney Academy Wildcats will follow at 5 p.m.

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