November 16, 2018

Winnipeg
-17° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

High school titans prepare for battle

St. Paul's will tackle Vincent Massey in Friday's Anavets Bowl championship

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Vincent Massey High School quarterback Jackson Tachinski hands off to running back Braydon Stubbs during practice Tuesday. Vincent Massey will face St Paul's in the championship game, Friday.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Vincent Massey High School quarterback Jackson Tachinski hands off to running back Braydon Stubbs during practice Tuesday. Vincent Massey will face St Paul's in the championship game, Friday.

It’s all you could want from a championship game.

Two elite programs led by veteran coaches, a pair of top-flight quarterbacks and no clear favourite — that’s what the Vincent Massey Trojans and St. Paul’s Crusaders will provide Friday night at Investors Group Field when they battle for the big prize to end the Winnipeg High School Football League season.

The Crusaders have reached the Division I final 11 straight times and will be attempting to win their sixth title in eight years. Massey, meanwhile, is bidding to earn its first city crown since winning it all in 2015.

“Both teams are pretty disciplined crews,” says head coach Kelsey McKay, whose Trojans are 8-0-1. “There’s experience on both sides and a good group of kids on both teams. It is going to be a well-played, well-disciplined game and we’re looking forward to it.”

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

It’s all you could want from a championship game.

Two elite programs led by veteran coaches, a pair of top-flight quarterbacks and no clear favourite — that’s what the Vincent Massey Trojans and St. Paul’s Crusaders will provide Friday night at Investors Group Field when they battle for the big prize to end the Winnipeg High School Football League season.

The Crusaders have reached the Division I final 11 straight times and will be attempting to win their sixth title in eight years. Massey, meanwhile, is bidding to earn its first city crown since winning it all in 2015.

"Both teams are pretty disciplined crews," says head coach Kelsey McKay, whose Trojans are 8-0-1. "There’s experience on both sides and a good group of kids on both teams. It is going to be a well-played, well-disciplined game and we’re looking forward to it."

Massey’s plans took a big hit in mid-season when slotback Vaughan Lloyd and Jayden Zimmer, the squad’s leading receiver, both suffered season-ending injuries.

It was bad news to be sure but as good teams often do, the Trojans adjusted and moved on.

HEAVYWEIGHT TILT BETWEEN CLIPPERS, KODIAKS

The Kelvin Clippers had pitched four consecutive shutouts and were running roughshod over their opponents in Division II of the Winnipeg High School Football League when they ran headlong into the visiting River East Kodiaks on Oct. 4.

A 33-0 River East beatdown — however ugly it may have looked to Clippers head coach Jon Romu — was a turning point for Kelvin.

The Kelvin Clippers had pitched four consecutive shutouts and were running roughshod over their opponents in Division II of the Winnipeg High School Football League when they ran headlong into the visiting River East Kodiaks on Oct. 4.

A 33-0 River East beatdown — however ugly it may have looked to Clippers head coach Jon Romu — was a turning point for Kelvin.

"Up until that point we hadn't given up a point on defence and we were riding pretty high and the kids were pretty full of themselves and they were thinking they were going to go undefeated, thinking they weren't going to allow a point all season — and we got humbled," said Romu, noting the Kodiaks hadn't beaten the Clippers in 15 years. "Offensively, we didn't get a lot of things going and we had some injuries, we didn't execute and as soon as that game was over, that was the team we wanted to play again in the championship."

Romu admits his team was in turmoil at the time: some players were skipping practice while the squad, already working with a new offensive co-ordinator, was also coping with the upheaval of a new defensive co-ordinator, installed just before the game against River East. That reality check jolted the Clippers, who promptly went on another four-game winning streak, including a 31-14 semifinal win over the Murdoch McKay Clansmen.

On Friday night, the 8-1 Clippers and 8-1 Kodiaks will meet again in the CTV Bowl, the Division II championship game at Investors Group Field.

"It's going to be an interesting game between us to see what adjustments both teams have made," said Sean Oleksewycz, the first-year head coach of the Kodiaks. "Because their strength is their receivers, our strength is our DBs. I'm really looking forward to it. They have a great set of receivers over there. Brock Gates, he's the most physical receiver in our league and (Robin Brooks), he's the best receiver in the Winnipeg High School Football League, hands down."

First-year Kodiaks quarterback Sam Hezekiah, who is also arguably the WHSFL's finest defensive back, runs a read-option offence that is perfectly suited for his dual-threat skill set as a runner and underated passer.

"If he needs a blow and he asks for one, I usually look at the scoreboard and we'll have a little talk," says Oleksewycz. "... I told him, 'It's our last game, you can't come off the field. If you need a break, we'll sub for you at quarterback.' "

Oleksewycz operates a platoon system at tailback, using Rylan Griffith and Owen Unrau as an effective tandem.

On the defensive side, Hezekiah is usually matched up with an opponent's best receiver while Joseph Funk-Clements is another star in the River East secondary. They'll need to be at their best to handle Kelvin's deep receiving corps, led by possession man Gates and speedster Brooks. Tight end/fullback Liam Stephenson, a member of the provincial basketball team, has been a revelation on the gridiron this season.

Directing the Clippers' offence is quarterback Daniel Moroz, who was carried off the field with a serious back injury last season, only to be cleared for play in July.

"He got more and more confident and now he's the trigger-man on our offence," says Romu. "He's playing at a pretty high level."

— Sawatzky

Instead of a pass-happy attack under the direction of quarterback Jackson Tachinski, Massey started pounding the rock with sledgehammer effectiveness, employing both Grade 12 star Breydon Stubbs and Grade 11 power back Ishe Matanga. With Massey’s O-line getting a big push, Garden City’s defence got a steady diet of Stubbs and Matanga in Massey’s 43-0 semifinal win last Friday.

"The good thing is we have a really good offensive line," said McKay. "There’s a lot of experience there, a lot of quality experience, so the change was a little bit different for us but it’s fine. It’s stuff we’ve run in the past and many years but it wasn’t our focus this year until it had to be in the last part of the season."

Stubbs, a nice blend of power and shiftiness, piled up 823 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 7.2 yards per carry during the regular season.

"Yeah, our O-line got some good practise in and they were outstanding in that game," says Stubbs. "I was very proud to be able to get past the line without even being touched and only having to deal with the secondary was pretty awesome."

McKay uses a six-man rotation on the O-line, which includes Kyler Filewich, a much-heralded college prospect, Jack Schaffer, Victor Olaniran, Tristan Hunt-Lesage, Matt Stokman and Mark Rauhaus. The line features players who are large and athletic, weighing anywhere between 220 and 260 pounds each.

The 6-0, 260-pound Rauhaus is the group’s emotional leader. "He’s not only intelligent but he’s downright nasty," says McKay.

St. Paul’s, meanwhile, has depended heavily on a superb defence led by linebacker Tyler Grom en route to an 8-1 record.

The Crusaders’ only loss? That came on Sept. 21 — a 14-10 decision at home against the Trojans.

"They have great defensive line," says McKay, who has great respect for St. Paul’s head coach Stacy Dainard and his staff. "They’re going to be quite a test. They’re not a physically big as us but they are athletic and fast."

On offence, the Crusaders are no slouches either with quarterback Brady Lawson, the MVP of last year’s championship win over Dakota, and multi-talented running back Te Jessie, the son of former Blue Bombers running back Tim Jessie.

"They’re a very well-coached team and they’re very skilled and I know they don’t beat themselves," says Stubbs.

In last week’s 29-3 semifinal win over Dakota, wideout Muludesta Yitna carved up the Lancers’ pass defence for five catches and 79 yards

With a low of -11 C forecast for game time, expect the team best able to deal with the elements at IGF to have an edge.

"The weather’s gonna be really cold on Friday night," says McKay. "It’s gonna be a bit of smash-mouth, playoff football. Both teams are going to play really well, I know that."

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at 9:42 PM CST: Adds sidebar

9:44 PM: Edits

9:47 PM: More edits.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us