Even swirling snow couldn’t chill the St. Paul’s Crusaders AA team on Friday night, as they rolled over the Garden City Fighting Gophers 32-0 en route to winning the Winnipeg High School Football League’s Free Press Bowl.
It marked the first time the Crusaders’ second squad has won the Kas Vidruk division championship since 2009. The Gophers and the Crusaders didn’t meet during the regular season — both teams were 6-2 heading into the playoffs — but when they finally did on Friday the Gophers weren’t able to put up much of a fight. The Crusaders took control of the game early, and took advantage of a slick ball and a smart game plan to keep the Gophers holed up.
When kickoff came on Friday night, the St. Paul’s team took control early, and never looked back: They opened the scoring in the first quarter, when pivot Tommy Semchyshyn found Cole Zadro for a 37-yard touchdown pass.
They got their second score off an unusual play in the second frame, when kicker Matias Bueno (named offensive player of the game) recovered his own missed field goal in the Gophers’ end zone for the score. After the half, the Crusaders continued to pull away, as running back Trevor Wright, who won the game’s most outstanding player honour, busted out a huge 73-yard touchdown scamper.
In the final frame, the Crusaders would add one last major, with a five-yard hustle from running back Heath Chalmers.
The WHSFL championship week wraps up on Friday night, when the St. Paul’s AAA squad will look to defend their championship against the Murdoch McKay Clansmen in the John Potter division final, which was slated to kick off at 7:30 p.m. at IGF.