Coach Mike Scott and the St. Charles College Cardinals junior boys football team may not have reached their ultimate goal, beaten in the NOSSA final, but a third SDSSAA banner in the past four years provided plenty of reason to look back on a highly successful season.
Following a 3-0 win in the city final over the St. Benedict Bears, the Cards were stopped 47-20 by the Korah Colts Saturday afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie.
"Korah is a well-coached team," said Scott, providing a text account of the contest later that evening. "They were a big team with lots of numbers. They outpowered us. We got hit with injuries to key players early in the game and had a difficult time adjusting."
The loss was pretty much the only blemish on an otherwise highly memorable campaign.
"I've always told the kids that I expected perfection from them," said Scott. "But for these kids, perfection isn't flawless. It means 100-per-cent effort. These kids have bought into everything that we have taught them, right back since Aug. 27. They believe in the coaching staff. They came on board and have played really well."
With the SDSSAA gold medal encounter going right down to the wire, Scott was confident that his troops were sufficiently battled tested prior to hitting the road on the weekend.
"We controlled a lot of that game (the city final), but it could have gone either way," he said. "That's what I expected from St. Ben's. They have always been our toughest competition and always will be, I'm sure."
Understandably, preparing the St. Charles lads for much of the past few months was clearly not a one-man job.
"John Zulich has been with me the past couple of years, he runs the defense," said Scott. "When you get a guy who has won a Vanier Cup as your right hand man, things go extremely well. He spends hours upon hours looking at film, trying to establish improvements."
On the field, Scott looked to some key cogs in the St. Charles junior football wheel to ensure to team would continue to chug along nicely.
"Devon Zloty is probably one of the best throwing quarterbacks in the city," said his coach.
"Brett Bond, MVP in the city final, is just a football player. He plays both ways, at right tackle and linebacker. He was one of two starters from last year that returned. He has taken on a leadership role and is the key on defence."
That said, the coach also believes that in Daniel Labelle and Lennox Fitchette, he is blessed with the two best defensive ends in the city a tandem that forces everything inside to Ethan Bower and Austin Reese.
"I'm one of the bigger kids this year," said Bond. "It seems like I can push a lot of the guys around. And I played (Sudbury) Gladiators in the summer, which helped me out a lot."
The competition that is provided competing in the OFC (Ontario Football Conference) from May until August was not lost on his teammate responsible for guiding the offense.
"I know what is out there know, by playing with high level skill people," said Zloty. "I learned a lot more about offenses, and defensive coverages, which helps a lot. Being on a team with older kids, like that, helped me grow as a person and become more of a leader."
Reaching the end zone against Korah were Lennox Fitchette (25-yard fumble recovery), Roo Astgen (30-yard run) and Ethan Teeter, the primary backfield threat for the Cards, who amassed 153 yards on the day.
"I am quite proud of these boys," said coach Scott.