OFSAA Football Festival Preview (Metro Bowl): #CFC50 No. 31 St. Matthew takes on Michael Power/St. Joseph with each team eyeing history

Expect to feel a different level of excitement in the air during the Metro Bowl this year with the #CFC50 No.31 St. Matthew Tigers taking on the Michael Power/St. Joseph’s Trojans (MPSJ) in what will be a memorable first for both programs.

Both team’s ended significant droughts en route to Hamilton this season, with MPJS making their first bowl appearance since 1989 – 11 years before the birth of the OFSAA Bowl Festival – and St. Matthew ending a 21 year league title drought which has finally landed the Tigers on the province’s biggest stage.

It was a tale of revenge you could say for MPSJ who opened the season with a tough 23-19 loss to the defending champions from the Toronto Catholic league Chaminade. After absorbing the loss and shaking off the cobwebs, the Trojans got down to business winning their next four games by a combined score of 122-0, which included a semifinals blowout over Senator O’Connor that would set up a coveted rematch with Chaminade in the finals. Despite coming into the game as the reigning two time champions and already having a win over MPJS under their belt, Chaminade couldn’t hold it together in the finals as the Trojans prevailed in an historic 34-20 victory.

St. Matthew can closely relate to their counterparts after climbing a similar ladder this year. The perennial problem for St. Matthew had always been the St. Peter Knights, who have laid claim to the city of Ottawa more times than not during the Tigers’ 21 year drought. Much like Chaminade, St. Peter had made an appearance at the last two festivals after winning the league title, but in a plot twist not many saw coming, St. Matthew had a different set of plans for how the season would end this time around.

The first act of their masterplan saw them defeat St. Peter in the season opener 28-21, and after two more wins the following weeks, the Tigers were sitting pretty at 3-0 to start the year. They hit a speed bump – much like MPSJ – during the rematch in week four where St. Peter reasserted their dominance in a 29-20 decision, but all that seemed to do was motivate a hungry St. Matthew’s team even more. They went on to finish the regular season with 66-0 and 55-7 victories, and after another resounding 44-0 shutout in the semifinals, the rubber match was set with St. Matthew preparing for the final act. St. Peter would end up being completely overwhelmed by St. Matthew in the finals as they rolled to a 42-0 blowout victory, officially reuniting the school with a trophy that had eluded them for 21 long years.

It was Ted Kubongo and Jonathan Mufuta who were the driving force behind the Tigers win in the finals, with Kubongo making his way across the goal line three times and Mufuta following close behind with a pair of touchdowns of his own. Big play ability is definitely a trait that both of these back’s possess, and Kubongo couldn’t have sent that message any clearer than with a 104 yard touchdown rip that all but dashed St. Peter’s hopes. It will be a tall task for the Trojans’ defence to not only shut down the Tigers’ two workhorses, but they will also need to pay close attention to quarterback Xavier Gervais who will be looking to find gaps in coverage if MPSJ decides to stack the box. Keep in mind, however, that the Trojans’ are a team who are used to keeping clean sheets with four in a row at one point this season, so it will be interesting to see how each team reacts if one side grabs an early advantage.

With little information about the Trojans’ personnel, it is tough to tell how they will go about attacking a Tigers’ defence who also earned four shutouts this season. MPJS scored 40+ points on multiple occasions, and found similar success in their win over Chaminade, but there will be some talent on the other side of the field that may be a notch above what they have been facing so far this season. Led by safety Kately Joseph and fellow defensive back Willy Dimbongi, St. Matthew’s defence has created a knack for timely plays at the perfect time, with a great example being the two interceptions Dimbongi snagged in the end zone versus St. Peter which completely shifted the momentum of the game. Both guys also switch over to offence on occasion to add an extra spark, which will be something to keep an eye on as well in this one.

Although each team will already go down in history as the first to make it all the way to the OFSAA Bowl Festival for their respective schools, make no mistake the feel good stories from weeks gone by will not mean a thing when these two lock horns with the Metro Bowl hanging in the balance.

Catch all the action on Monday, November 28th at Tim Hortons Field. Kickoff is set for 1:00pm.


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