By Dan Plouffe, originally published Nov. 15, 2010, in Ottawa This Week.
The Ashbury Colts knocked off the defending OFSAA bowl champions once this year, but they couldn’t do the unthinkable twice as the St. Peter Knights powered their way to a 37-14 victory in the national capital high school senior football championship on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Minto Field.
Colts coach Dwayne Smith had identified a quick start as a pre-game key to success and wound up displeased with his team’s effort as they came out flat and fell into an early hole that proved to be insurmountable.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Smith said. “We didn’t show up until well into the football game. We were down three touchdowns before we knew it.”
Absolutely nothing went well for Ashbury in the early stages of the league final. The offense was running in reverse, while the defense blew coverages and could not contend with the beastly 225-lb. St. Peter runningback Isaiah Harris, who plowed over several Colts and sent them to the sidelines stunned as he bowled on through the end zone for a 23-0 Knights advantage early in the second quarter.
Ashbury showed some life on its next drive as quarterback Duncan Lurie and runningback John Funston – with a short touchdown run – carried the Colts over 70 yards to the end zone.
The momentum swing didn’t last long, however, as an interception on the next Ashbury drive set up St. Peter with a short field and a major to make the score 30-6 at halftime.
The Colts seriously threatened to make a ball game out of it in the second half as they came out strong and put together several impressive drives. Robbie Ashe narrowed the deficit to 30-14 with a TD grab deep in the end zone and Ashbury ventured deep into St. Peter territory again on its next possession until a fumble killed the push.
The Knights added one more touchdown in the fourth quarter and rode off with their third consecutive city title.
“We came out in the second half and executed,” noted Smith, who couldn’t find much consolation in his squad’s comeback attempt. “There was a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of a commitment to play this game with any degree of aggressiveness, and when that happens, you’re not going to win football games.”
It was a different story earlier this year when the Colts’ defense managed to shut down St. Peter’s running attack and earned a 6-3 victory on their home field in Rockcliffe, which marked the first time the Knights lost a game to a national capital opponent in over three years.
“It’s a great accomplishment to get here,” said Smith, whose squad escaped with a 24-21 semi-final victory over St. Mark four days before the city final and posted an overall record of 6-2. “But there was an opportunity for us to take and we didn’t take it. Overall, it ends with disappointment.”
With Lurie returning to lead Ashbury’s offense next season, the Colts promise to be a contender in the 2011 campaign that has the potential to be the Tier 1 league’s most competitive top-to-bottom in recent years.
“We’re excited about next year,” Smith added. “It’s unfortunate that we had to finish this season off (like that on Saturday), but we’ve got some talent returning, so we’ll be a good football team again.”
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