By Dan Plouffe
The kings have been dethroned.
The St. Peter Knights lost to a National Capital opponent for the first time since 2007, and more than happy to assume their spot atop the high school senior football world were the Ashbury Colts, who knocked off the defending OFSAA bowl champions 6-3 on Friday, Oct. 22 in Rockcliffe.
“It was certainly fantastic to get the win,” Colts coach Dwayne Smith smiled. “It’s been a while since we’ve beaten St. Peter, so I think this will do wonders for my players’ confidence.”
The matchup between the two 4-0 squads that hadn’t won by fewer than 11 points in any previous contest proved to be a major defensive battle. Neither team could finish any of their drives on offense and managed only a field goal apiece in the first half.
John Funston played a big role in helping Ashbury win the field position battle in the second half thanks to several big kick returns and running plays. The Colts couldn’t convert the efforts into points, however, until an enormous fumble recovery by Daniel Arango set his team up deep in St. Peter territory with two minutes left to play.
“I’m really proud of my defense,” Smith said, noting his players were undersized compared to most of the Knights. “They moved around well. They demonstrated agility and mobility to get themselves into position to make tackles and some big plays.”
Despite the fact that it was the first time kicker Andres Diaz faced a field goal attempt to potentially decide a game, the second-year football player stepped up and booted the ball through the posts with authority from 31 yards out.
“It’s the biggest one I’ve made,” Diaz grinned. “I was very excited. I couldn’t control my emotions – I was just running up and down.”
The long-time Ottawa Fury soccer player said he managed to trick himself into thinking the kick wasn’t as crucial as it actually was.
“I was trying to soothe it at down, trying to tell myself it wasn’t that important, so when I got up there, I was calm and relaxed and I was able to put it through the uprights,” recounted Diaz, whose team will likely have to take down the Knights once more if they want to win a city title. “In the finals, hopefully maybe I can match it with a big field goal then.”
The victory means Ashbury will finish first in the regular-season standings, with St. Peter in second, regardless of results in each of their season finales on Thursday, Oct. 28. It also assures the Colts of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We’re a pretty tough team to beat at home, so it’s pretty big,” Smith noted. “There’s a lot of pride and tradition. These guys really step it up when we play in our backyard.”
The Ashbury players are hungry to make the school’s first appearance in the National Capital League final in three years, and are even more starved for their first championship since 2002, their coach emphasized.
“I’m real proud of these guys,” Smith added, identifying leadership from veterans and overall speed as big keys to the team’s success. “And hats go off to St. Pete’s for playing a good game (on Friday). Now let’s play again.
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