The Red Knights found their holy grail.
But it did not go without a little intrigue, as their 14–11 city title was threatened right to the end by Agincourt Lancers.
So much excitement in a championship game is something Northern head coach Don Dominico has never experienced.
“We did it just close enough to make people sit on the edge of their seats,” he said. “Just enough crazy things happening.
“I mean in 30 years of coaching I’ve never seen such a crazy ending,” he added. “I like to have nice normal endings: hand the ball off, run the clock down, right? But man what the hell was that?”
After a pick by Northern defensive back Tristan Douglin off Agincourt’s pivot T.J. Edwards, rusher Adam Adeboboye rumbled in for the squad’s second touchdown in the fourth quarter.
There was 1:22 on the clock. The score was 14-4, and the Lancers’ only points came from two conceded safeties in the second quarter. Northern’s previous touchdown came from a long pass from Robert Marks to Alonzo Chevers-Forrester 33 seconds into the second.
But what Dominico thought was a safe kick in the fourth turned into a special teams nightmare, with the Lancers’ Dillon Sinclair rumbling all the way from his 25 to Northern’s endzone.
“I had this premonition where the guys thought 1:22 the game’s over, they’re cheering and I’m like, ‘No, no it’s not’,” Dominico said. “I just know in Canadian football with the kicking game, anything can happen.
“We proved that today.”
Still, Douglin proved he’s worthy of being at the roundtable, by picking off Edwards again in his own endzone.
That interception saved the day. It was the defence that won the game for the Red Knights.
“As long as our offence gave our defence enough time to rest and recuperate and we did move the ball when we had to,” Dominico said. “We scored a couple of touchdowns.
“We probably should have had another one or two but you can always complain about what happened and didn’t happen,” he added. “Let’s face it, our defence had an incredible effort.”
The defence’s ability to stop one of the Toronto District School Board’s best rushers, Jayde Rowe, was the turning point.
Rowe passed the ball on a couple of reverses and rushed for over 200 yards.
Lancers coach Joe Rumolo lauded Rowe as the team’s workhorse.
“He’s been our go-to guy and a ground-and-pound back,” he said. “We expect a lot of things from him and we continue to.
“He did his job the best he could and he gave it all that he had in his tank,” he added. “He was a true soldier out there today.”
Rounding out the three knights who found the grail, were Adeboboye, rushing for almost 150 yards, and Marks.
The players came back from a year of adversity, considering Northern has not had a home field to practise or play on.
“We’ve had to (travel) two kilometres to our field every day,” Dominico said. “It sounds easy but it’s actually difficult because when the weather’s not so great the players still have to slog their way over there.
“There’s the promise of our nice field, but this year they’ve just focused on the last two weeks.”
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