THE Oak Park Raiders weren't about to let this one slip away.
After losing their only regular-season game to the Vincent Massey Trojans, the Raiders responded with a 30-15 victory over the Trojans on Friday to win the Home Run Sports Bowl in the Winnipeg High School Football League's junior varsity division championship at Canad Inns Stadium.
In the regular-season game, the Raiders had a 17-0 halftime lead but the Trojans stormed back to win 27-20.
"We let that game go before against them and we knew that shouldn't have happened. We knew we'd come back and fight for this," said Oak Park quarterback Ethan Diakow.
"It means a lot to win this. We said something at the start of the year -- to get to Week 12 and we accomplished that."
The Raiders used a grinding ground game to put the Trojans behind early and hand the Vincent Massey team its first loss of the season in its last game.
"It feels really good. That was a great team to play," said Raiders running back Logan Baldaro, who scored a pair of touchdowns on 17- and 70-yard runs. "We knew coming in it was going to be a hard game to play. We spent a lot of time keying in on certain plays, practising stuff, and it really paid off today."
The Trojans were hurt by turnovers and a stingy Raiders defence that kept everything in front of them. Oak Park linebacker James Najduch was named player of the game.
"The only way to describe it right now is a certain amount of shock. I think all the kids are in shock too, but I'm proud of them," said Vincent Massey head coach Kris Johnston, whose team scored a touchdown in the game's dying minutes on a blocked punt that was recovered in the end zone by linebacker Elliot Tollenaar.
"They battled. This group of kids did not give up. We were down 30-9 with five minutes left in the game. They did not surrender. We blocked a punt, attempted an onside kick, did everything we could."
Oak Park led 20-9 at the half on a pair of 15-yard field goals by Tyler Hrousalas and a five-yard touchdown run by Riley Dirks. Vincent Massey got its first touchdown on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Josh Martin to Sam Blakely.
The game was stopped for about 15 minutes midway through the second quarter when Trojans defensive back Brandon Beardy went down with an injury in the neck area and was transported to the hospital for precautionary reasons.