RECAP (ONT – GBSSA): Phoenix fall to Tritons in season opener


The Barrie Central Phoenix junior team kicked off their swan song season on Thursday afternoon in Innisfil, ON.

The Phoenix, of the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) and Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA), were in tough against the reigning GBSSA champions, the Nantyr Shores Tritons.

The experienced Tritons came out gunning on the opening drive. On the second play from scrimmage, Nicholas DeJesus, the starting quarterback for Nantyr, making his high school debut, hooked up with wideout Brandyn Talbot on a deep pass down the right sideline. Talbot, with the size advantage over Central cornerback, Josh Kent, made the grab and ran it the rest of the way for the first major score of the season. After a successful two-point conversion, Nantyr was out to an early 8-0 lead.

And they weren’t done there. After a quick two and out from the Phoenix, the Tritons got the ball back and found the house once again almost immediately. DeJesus set up screen to running back Jordan Austin, who made a few different tacklers miss before finding some space in the open field and scampering to pay dirt. After failing to convert on their second two-point attempt of the quarter, the Tritons held a 14-0 lead.



A safety conceded by Central, rather than punting from their end zone, a couple of drives later, put the Tritons up 16-0 after 1.

DeJesus continued his hot play in the second quarter. He connected with tight end Kyle Drowning on a very similar play to his first touchdown of the game, and before the Phoenix could get their feet underneath them, they were down 23-0. The score stayed that way the rest of the first half, and the Tritons carried a 3-score lead into halftime.

However, the Phoenix would get on the board about halfway through the third quarter. Quarterback Matthew Piggot, making his first start at the position for the Phoenix, found wide receiver Curtis King open across the middle. He cut it to the inside around a couple Tritons defenders and ran it in for Central’s first points of the season. A two-point attempt, scored by fullback Molham Essa, brought the Phoenix within two scores, at 23-8.

A couple series later, Central was the benefactor of a blocked punt. Charlie Jeans, who was arguably Central’s best defensive player on the day, and Matthew Eliot, both got through the line and got a hand on the football. The Phoenix would recover the block and take over around their 15 yard line. The birds looked in good position to get themselves back into the game. However, some stout defence by their opponents and a dropped pass on third down that would have moved the sticks, prevented the Phoenix from cracking into the deficit.


The Tritons were quick to capitalize off the missed opportunity. DeJesus and Austin linked up on another screen pass. DeJesus took advantage of Central’s defence crashing the pocket on the screen and dumping it off for easy yards after the catch. Austin again had plenty of running room with Central defenders running all over the place trying to pursue him. He was able to reach the end zone for the second time in the game, and, for all intents and purposes, wrapped up the win for Nantyr, as they went ahead by a score of 31-8, after another 2-point try, through 36 minutes.

The Tritons would add one final score in the 4th off a forced fumble. Free safety Jackson Raeburn forced and recovered a questionable fumble, that was clearly an incomplete pass. DeJesus would go back to work, firing his fifth touchdown pass of the ball game, another long bomb down the sideline, to receiver Marlon Valentine to cap off the scoring. The Tritons would kill the clock and take the season-opening victory 38-8.


Overall, Nantyr coach Daniel Harvey was pleased with the performance.

“It was a nice start to the season, he said. “This is a quick season so it’s important to get some momentum early in the year and get on a roll going into the playoffs,”

“We finished the game with no injuries which is always important and got a good chance to finally see the team in action in the first game since we didn’t have an exhibition game this year.”

What we saw from Nick DeJesus is nothing new for Harvey.

“Nicholas is a fantastic quarterback and one that expectations are sky high for,” he praised. “This being my third season coaching him between high school and summer football we’ve all become used to him having four or five passing touchdowns every game.”

“It was nice seeing him make the smooth adjustment to the high school game and we expect him to continue to work on his craft and be a force in this league for the next four years.”

Defence was on display all afternoon for the Tritons. Coach Harvey commended his players on the defensive side of the ball.

“The D came out strong for our first game,” he mentions. “We have a core of experienced grade 10 players on the defensive line and secondary and they played some solid football.”

“Central beat us to the edge a few times but other than that the D had some nice stops and got good pressure on the quarterback most of the game.”

The Tritons get set for their first road game of the season Friday, October 2 vs. the Banting Marauders of Alliston beginning at 2:30 p.m.


For Central, they are confident that this was just a blip on the radar.

“We, understandably, started off almost timid in the first half,” said Phoenix receiver Jeff St. Jean. “For some kids it was their first time playing a game of full contact football; I was in the same position 365 days ago as well.”

“However, when that second half started, the scoreboard ceased to exist and we played for more than just the game.  This is Central’s last year of football and as a school; this thought brought not only immense amounts of passion but also the necessary anger to compete at a high enough level.  Although most people would be dissatisfied with the outcome displayed on the score clock, we realized that the improvement we had experienced as a team and as a family was unprecedented.”


Curtis King was the only Phoenix to find the end zone, and he takes us through his first major score of the year.

“We were down by a couple of scores going into the second so I knew we needed some type of spark to bring our team back to life,” he says. “I tried to get us up on the board and show are team that we can win this game.”

King is also a captain of the Phoenix, and takes his leadership role very seriously.

“I was very honoured to be named one of the captains for our team,” he stated. “I like to lead by example and I’m just trying to lead the way for our team.”

This team is a very special team. The players all care deeply for each other, and they all want one another to succeed.

“When I think of my fellow Phoenix teammates, I can do nothing but smile,” says St. Jean “The things these kids have been through, they are easily the toughest (both physically and emotionally) people I have ever met.”

“”It is impossible to comprehend the stunning character of these young adults unless you actually experience the Central life yourself. Just a heads up, you can never destroy a Phoenix so do not even attempt it.”

It is back to business this week for the Phoenix, as they prepare for a week two matchup with the newly-name Orillia Nighthawks (formerly known as the OD/Park Trojans and Park Street Trojans).

“Week two brings on the tough challenge of OSS,” says St. Jean. “I’m unsure of what they will bring to the table. However, I am 100 percent sure that our team will be well prepared to leave it all on the gridiron and play with the most passion this city has ever seen.”

King sees tons of room for improvement on offence.

“Ore passing attack is very good but we need some type of running attack if we want to be more successful,” suggested the second year player. “We need to focus on getting are blocks down field and making holes for our backs.”

Central eyes its first win of the season also on Friday, October 2, at 2:30 p.m. from Orillia.




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