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Ernestown to face La Salle in AA football final

October 30, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

ODESSA — You might think that blowing an 11-point lead and giving up 22 points in the fourth quarter to lose a football game by a point would be devastating to a team in a young program trying to establish itself.

Many times, that would be a reasonable assumption but not, apparently, in the case of the Ernestown Eagles.

The Eagles rebounded from just such a defeat five days ago by exacting a 35-7 win from the Bayridge Blazers in the Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior AA football semifinal game Tuesday at Odessa, a victory that puts Ernestown into the county double-A championship game with La Salle Sunday at Richardson Stadium.

Rather than lick the wounds of a 32-31 loss to Sydenham in its final regular-season contest, Ernestown players kept their resolve and were pretty much in control throughout Tuesday’s penalty-filled match. The Eagles scored first and led 21-0 before Bayridge got its touchdown in the third quarter.

In retrospect, Eagles coach Lou Bilkovski said, last week’s game was not so much a crushing blow as it was a teaching opportunity.

“That was a good experience for us,” Bilkovski said.”We learned by that.

“I mentioned to our guys, ‘Look, there’s a team that doesn’t quit and you’ve got to respect that. When the chips are down, you don’t quit, and look what happened to them.’ Unfortunately we were on the short end of the stick but it was positive all the way around after that game. I was very pleased.”

In the final analysis, Bilkovski said, the outcome notwithstanding, “that was a tremendous game for us against a top quality football team.”

“Win or lose, that game was a win for us,” he said. “That’s what I expressed to our players after the game, that to play with a Sydenham is an incredible feat. We played all four quarters, which we have not been able to do all season. Most of our games we’re in the first half and in the second half the wheels start falling off the wagon.

“(The last two games) the guys have been able to keep it going for four quarters. It couldn’t come at a better time.”

The Eagles go into Sunday’s final injury-free, which is not insignificant for a team with a roster of just 24 players.

“We have a tremendous amount of heart,” Bilkovski said. “This team is very close, which is important on a football team, and the guys all work together. They all like each other, and that’s half the battle.”

Still, the Eagles would dearly love to become a team recognized for its achievement, and not just for its pluck.

“I’ve coached since 1990, and I can say this is one of the best teams (I’ve worked with),” Bilkovski said. “These guys are really together and want to see each other succeed.”

John Elson, Konner Burtenshaw and Spencer Griffin scored first-half touchdowns for Ernestown. After quarterback Owen Henderson-Hahn scored a TD for Bayridge to make the score 21-7 in the third quarter, the Eagles replied with two major scores in the final 12 minutes, one apiece from quarterback Josh Campbell and Troy Cook.

Hayden McDonald converted all five touchdowns.

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