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Buckeyes take dead aim at champs Matchups and key players in high school football finals

Have St. Paul's, AAA high school football title in their sights

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The St. Paul's Crusaders are the target and the Miles Macdonell Buckeyes are a pretty good shot.

It's all going to add up to a Winnipeg High School Football League battle between the two Potter AAA teams for the ANAVETS Bowl championship.


The Crusaders are looking to repeat as ANAVETS champions while the Buckeyes, who lost to the Grant Park Pirates in last year's Free Press Bowl AA championship, moved up a division this season and have earned their way to the final.

"We're enjoying the pressure because we've had a successful season. With that comes expectations and expectations are what we have of ourselves to be the best team we can be," said St. Paul's head coach Stacy Dainard, whose team is undefeated.

Three Crusaders players -- running back Blair Mattes and linebackers Leon Cenerini and Brian McDonald -- are playing in a championship final for a fourth straight year. The three started for St. Paul's with the 2009 AA champion team. The AAA Crusaders lost to Oak Park in the 2010 ANAVETS Bowl before winning it in 2011.

"We know we have to continue to do the things that brought us this far -- run the ball and pass the ball well and make adjustments if they change something," Mattes said.

Miles Mac quarterback/safety/kicker Jayden McKoy, who has been called the league's most talented player by many, said his team knows exactly what has to be done on Friday.

"Last time we played against them, they scored at will. We're going to have our preparation, know our stuff and then have the game of our lives," said McKoy, whose Buckeyes lost 52-9 to St. Paul's in Week 5. "Stopping their run is key, that's the best part of their game."

In the Free Press Bowl on Friday, the defending champion Pirates will be led by the division's scoring leader, running back Michael Ritchott, when they face the Kelvin Clippers, who dropped down a division after going winless last season. The two met in the last game of the regular season, with Grant Park winning 14-9.

In Thursday's Currie A division final, two rural teams will battle for the Canad Inns Bowl for the first time in WHSFL history, as Brandon's Neelin Spartans will meet the Steinbach Sabres.

It is just the third year in the league for Steinbach, coached by Jamie Peters. Peters and Miles Mac head coach Dan Washnuk are former teammates with the Winnipeg Rifles junior football team.

Brandon has a team in a WHSFL final for the first time since the Crocus Plains Plainsmen in 1987. That year, Neelin head coach Robert Cullen was a Grade 12 offensive lineman on a Crocus team that went 12-0.

Neelin, whose running back Dylan Minshull broke the division's rushing record with 1,430 yards, lost just one game, shut out 28-0 by Steinbach.

"We ran the table since then and we'll be ready for them," Cullen said. "We talked a lot about it being a special opportunity to be in a final, but we've got a very tough opponent in Steinbach."

The junior varsity championship, for players in Grades 9 and 10, will be contested by the Vincent Massey Trojans and the Oak Park Raiders. In their regular-season meeting, Vincent Massey came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat Oak Park 27-20.

"To have a young group of guys challenged that early by a very good opponent, that really brought our guys together and made us that much stronger," said Massey head coach Kris Johnston.

"I like to think that after facing some adversity like that, our guys are ready for anything."

All games are at Canad Inns Stadium.

Home Run Sports Bowl

(junior varsity)


Vincent Massey Trojans

vs. Oak Park Raiders

Thursday, 5 p.m.


Players to watch


Oak Park: QB/R Will Sesay, R/DB Andre Ellison

Vincent Massey: QB Josh Martin, RB Christian Madrid





Canad Inns Bowl

(Currie A)


Steinbach Sabres vs.

Neelin Spartans

Thursday, 7 p.m.


Players to watch


Neelin: RB Dylan Minshull, QB Bryce Keilback, Brandon Williams

Steinbach: QB Foster Martens, LB Chris Brown-Fillion, WR Taylor Buhler



Free Press Bowl

(Vidruk AA)


Grant Park Pirates vs.

Kelvin Clippers

Friday, 5 p.m.


Players to watch


Grant Park: QB Damian Surprenant, RB Michael Ritchott, LB Marshall Naylor

Kelvin: RB Brady Urbanovich, RB Liam Haime, QB Kristian D'Ignazio




(Potter AAA)


St. Paul's Crusaders

vs. Miles Macdonell Buckeyes, Friday, 7:30 p.m.


Players to watch


St. Paul's: QB Jamie Dzikowicz, RB Blair Mattes, LB Leon Cenerini

Miles Mac: QB/S Jayden McKoy, RB/DB Houston Rennie, Josh Castillo OL/DL

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2012 C4

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