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After dubious start, Frontenac will defend its triple-A football title

October 31, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Mike Doyle paused for a moment as he pondered the question.

“They really matured through that,” the Frontenac Falcons football coach said, as he considered what his players may have gained from starting the season 1-3.

That was certainly evident Thursday, as the Falcons handily defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders 38-16 in a Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior AAA semifinal game.

The victory, Frontenac’s third in a row since that inauspicious start, sends the defending champion Falcons into the county triple-A championship game Nov. 8 at Richardson Stadium against the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers. Regi defeated the Ernestown Eagles 24-20 in Thursday’s other semifinal game.

Part of that maturity, Doyle said, is better communication among his players on the field than they were exhibiting at the beginning of the year.

“The big thing is the first couple of games we’d make one mistake, and then another mistake and another mistake,” he said, “whereas any mistakes we made today we were able to demonstrate some more resilience and come back and make a good play on the next play.

“Not compounding our errors was a big thing today.”

It was an observation also made by Holy Cross coach Tim Pendergast, whose team trailed 24-2 at halftime.

“We started the third quarter and had a few first downs,” he said, “but every time we seemed to get any kind of momentum they had a play that took it away. Frontenac played really well. Their kids stepped up. Their defence played strong, hard-nosed football and they were by far the better team today.”

Alas, the Crusaders, 4-2 and a 27-25 winner over Frontenac in the regular year, knew all about mistakes Thursday. Three interceptions, a couple of fumbles, two missed field goals, and a punt returned for a touchdown were all manifestations of a day when anything that could go wrong for Holy Cross seemed to do just that.

Two interceptions by Frontenac’s Chris Sparks led to a touchdown and a field goal.

“Turnovers killed us,” Pendergast said. “In our three losses, turnovers were our Achilles heel.

“We did not play well. We slipped, we fell, we fumbled—but give credit to them. They came to play.”

The Falcons opened scoring in the middle of the first quarter, as quarterback Rob Magee hit Carter Matheson.

“It’s not like we weren’t expecting it,” Pendergast said. “Rob Magee’s arm out-threw our coverage and Carter came down with it and ran another 40 yards.”

Before the first half was done, Magee threw another touchdown pass to Brendan Steele and Connor O’Neil returned a punt about 70 yards for another Frontenac TD. A field goal by Braeden North sent the Falcons into halftime with a 22-point lead.

Alec Ferlan returned an intercepted pass early in the second half and Magee and Matheson connected for Frontenac’s final major. North converted all five.

It was 30-2 before Holy Cross scored a touchdown.

Doyle said his team controlled its errors.

“Kids being calmer during the game and relaxing and trusting themselves was a big thing today,” he said. “Our concentration was the best we’ve seen all year … and we had a great day from our special teams today, (not just) the punt return for a touchdown but a couple of other punt returns that were critical.”

Pendergast said Frontenac did nothing differently or better than it did when the teams met three weeks ago.

“It’s always difficult to beat a good football team twice,” he said. “We lost at the wrong time and we lost in the wrong order.”

As the only association in EOSSA with triple-A schools (based on enrolment) the KASSAA champion will get direct entry to a provincial bowl game Nov. 26 in McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium. That team will face the winner of the Toronto District association in a game scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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