The St. Matthew Tigers won the school's first ever provincial bowl game in Hamilton on Monday, downing the Michael Power/St. Joseph's Trojans 28-7 to lay claim to the OFSAA Metro Bowl.
St. Matt's captains Willy-Pierre Dimbongi, Kian Williams and Katley Joseph hold up the OFSAA Metro Bowl banner after their big win on Monday. Facebook photo
The Tigers were led by Kian Williams who scored three touchdowns on offence and snagged three of his team's five interceptions on defence to earn Player of the Game honours.
The Grade 11 student was literally all over the field. "It was a total rush," Williams said in a phone interview on the bus back to Ottawa. "The rush of being in position and being able to make those plays. It was unbelievable."
The Tigers had to overcome a disastrous opening two minutes that saw them fumble the ball away on their opening drive and then take a pair of major penalties on the same play that turned a 30-yard field goal attempt into first and goal on the one. Two plays later the Trojans took a 7-0 lead.
Most teams would have had trouble bouncing back from such an unfortunate series of events, especially a team with a history of taking ill-timed penalties.
The situation went from bad to worse when the Tigers fumbled the ball away again on their second series.
Fortunately for St. Matt's, the Trojans were having their own troubles on offence. An interception by Williams prevented St. Joseph's from capitalizing on the Tigers miscue.
After both teams exchanged possessions, Brayden Cassimiro picked off a Trojan pass on the 12-yard line and ran it in for a pick-six to end the first quarter with the game tied 7-7. The touchdown would prove to be the turning point of the game.
Playing with renewed confidence, the Tigers continued to keep the Trojan offence in check, while manufacturing their first scoring drive of the game late in the second quarter capped by a one-yard by Williams.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Tigers put the game away with a pair of touchdowns in the final stanza, both scored by Williams.
To say the Tigers performance was dominating is an understatement. Defensively they limited the Trojans to just 34 net yards on offence and forced them to turn the ball over seven times.
The Tigers' defence was especially effective in stopping the Trojans' running game, limiting them to just 25 yards on 16 carries. Conversely, St. Matt's ran the ball 27 times for 216 yards. If not for the fact that they turned the ball over six times themselves, the final score could have been much, much worse.
While Williams ran the ball 10 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns, Grade 12 senior Jonathan Mufuta had five carries for 42 yards and hauled in a 14-yard pass.
It should also be noted that the Tigers won the game without the services of their most effective offensive weapon all season. OFSAA rules prevented their highly recruited running back Ted Kubongo from playing in the game.
The Grade 12 senior enrolled at St. Matt's after moving to Ottawa from Calgary to play football with his cousin. For most of the players on the team, the city championship and Metro Bowl win were the first championships of their football careers.
The only other championship Williams was a part of was the 2012 NCAFA Mosquito C-Cup championship playing for the North Gloucester Giants. Defensive co-captain Katley Joseph had never won a championship. Monday's win was by far the highlight of his amateur football career.
"I'm just very, very grateful that I had this opportunity and I was able to share it with my teammates," said the Grade 12 senior. "You know, we're like a family on and off the field, so to be able to play together and win this for the school and the program is pretty special."
Joseph said the team drew inspiration from their disappointing early exit from last year's playoffs and the apparent lack of respect they were shown by other teams.
"A lot of people didn't think we could compete and that we were undisciplined, but we knew what we had to do from the beginning of the season and we did it. Every one was committed to winning and now we're provincial champions."
The team also drew inspiration from the Ottawa Redblacks improbable Grey Cup win which many of them watched the night before.
"You know the Redblacks represented Ottawa and we wanted to represent too," said Joseph. "It's pretty cool that we both won for Ottawa."