The Bear Creek Kodiaks senior football team’s rock-solid defence kept the St. Joan of Arc (JOA) Knights at bay as they won the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) championship title last night in Barrie.
The Kodiaks came away with a 16-6 victory over the Knights at Georgian College's J.C. Massie Field.
Bear Creek and JOA were both undefeated this season coming into Wednesday night's GBSSA title game as the two historic rivals went head-to-head.
The Kodiaks' win marks the second consecutive GBSSA senior title for the Red Oak Drive high school in south-end Barrie, with JOA prevailing the previous three years before them.
With roughly two minutes left on the clock, JOA was within a single yard of the end zone, but the Kodiaks put up a wall and stopped the Knights from scoring on every charge along the goal line.
Bear Creek middle linebacker Anthony Khlivny said he was happy with his team’s defence during those critical moments late in the game.
“They should have smashed us harder, but we were just stronger,” Khlivny told BarrieToday after the game.
“Today was awesome,” said Kodiaks quarterback Justin Cunningham. “We started out slow, but came out strong to win.”
“We’ve had a lot of adversity this season. We don’t even have a football field to practise on," said Bear Creek head coach Keith Jackson.
The Kodiaks have been practising on a nearby field all year. They also didn't have any home games because their field was being reconstructed and a new sprinkler system installed.
Jackson said the key for their success was his players’ dedication every day, with them grinding it out, paying attention and continuing to learn.
“This is a big win for us. It’s a great rivalry and we ended up on top,” he added.
For JOA, it was a bitter defeat.
“We played hard, but we just didn’t execute properly as a team," said JOA wide receiver Judah Davis. "We fought hard, but it is what it is."
“Our defence played a fantastic game,” said Knights head coach Chris Forde. “They kept us in the game throughout the entire match. We just didn’t have it on offence today.
“Football is like no other sport,” he added. “In football, you create a brotherhood, and these kids have done that. They sweat and they bleed for each other, and they play their butts off the entire season for each other. It comes down to one game — and there has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end of it today.”
The season isn’t over for Bear Creek, as the Kodiaks move on to play an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) bowl game against Chaminade College, the champions of the Toronto District Catholic Athletic Association (TDCAA). The bowl game is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 27 at Acumen Stadium in Windsor.