RECAP (ONT – GBSSA): Phoenix put up late surge but fall to Fighting Owls

The Barrie Central Phoenix hosted the winless Collingwood Fighting Owls in the penultimate regular season game in team history this past Friday.

With a win, Central would tie the Nottawasaga Pines Timberwolves, their final regular season opponent, for top spot in the ‘AA’ division of the SCAA with a record of 3-2. The Wolves fell to 3-2 after losing the day prior to the Eastview Wildcats, 21-7.

But, it was the Owls who came out gunning early.

On the opening series of the football game, Quarterback Ryan McMullin hooked up with wideout Hugh Kelly on a 40-yard touchdown strike. Placekicker Josh Conn would convert the subsequent PAT. The score was in large part thanks to running back Hudson Kerr, who ran all over the Phoenix defence early. Central was unable to get anything going offensively in the early going, and although their defence allowed some lengthy Owls’ drives, the score remained 7-0 through one quarter of action.


The Phoenix’s struggles would continue in quarter number two. Collingwood’s defence was on their game almost all afternoon, especially their defensive line. They would not allow Central to sustain anything on offence and forced many two-and-outs.

And the offence of the Owls would capitalize. McMullin would go back to work through the air, finding slotback Sebastian Jeffery on another long touchdown connection. That put his club up 14-0 following another extra point by Conn.

And, after another lacklustre offensive series from the home side, the visitors would find paydirt for a third time before the half was out. This time, McMullin would hand the ball off to Kerr, who was extremely effective in the first half. He would take the give, work it outside, and take it all the down to the 2-yard-line, before being tracked down thanks to some great hustle by linebacker Molham Essa. Said hustle only momentarily prevented Kerr from finding the house, as he took another handoff and scored one of the easiest TD’s he will score all year. Conn once again came on to kick the point after and put the Owl’s up 21-0 at the half.


The stunned Phoenix team looked to regroup in the second half, and show off the fortitude they have displayed all season long. Their wish would have to wait though, as the Owls’ defence continued their stingy play as the third quarter began. It is safe to say that many on the Central sideline were stunned, and were asking themselves, ‘How is this team 0-4?’ The travelling birds continued to take it to the host ones, who simply could not get anything going on offence, although the Phoenix ‘D’ did tighten up in the third. A scoreless frame meant that the Owls maintained their three-touchdown advantage heading to the home stretch.

The score remained 21-0 in favour of CCI until late in the fourth when the Phoenix finally cracked the scoreboard. Off a fumbled snap, Quarterback Matthew Piggott rolled to his right and hooked up with his favourite target, Curtis King on another long bomb through the air. Placekicker Jordan Travis came on to nail the PAT and bring the home side to within two major scores with about 4:00 remaining in the contest.


The defences each held the opposing offence at bay through the next 3:30, and the chances of a Phoenix comeback were growing slimmer by the second. However, with 36 seconds to go, Piggott hitched the ball out to, guess who, King, who scampered down the far sideline and took it all the way in for the score with 21 seconds still to tick off the clock. The Phoenix would fake the PAT and Piggott, who is usually the holder on field goals, would go back to King for the two-point convert to make the score 21-15.

There was still a chance, albeit a slim one, at another late comeback for Central. Those chances all rested on the outcome of an onside kick. Kicker Charlie Jeans put the ball up for grabs, but it was recovered by the Owls, which all but assured them their first victory of the season. McMullin would kneel twice and put the game on ice, a 21-15 CCI victory.

One worry coming into the game was the fact that the Owls were winless, and that the Phoenix would take them lightly. Essa believes that was a big part of the outcome.


“We have a strong team with a lot of skilled players and in my opinion should’ve beat them,” he said. “but the problem was we assumed they were gonna be an easy team and that we could walk over due to there four game losing streak.”

Jeans agreed. “I think we headed into the game too cocky; thinking that since we beat North we should beat Collingwood easily,” he mentioned. “Then we realized in the second half we were playing a tough team and we started to play Central Football.”

That said, there were some positives and some things to learn from.

“We realized what our mistakes were and started to push back,” said Essa. “Our defence started to tighten up and our offence got it together late.”


Now, the red, white, and black have to carry these positives forward into a crucial Wednesday matchup with Nottawasaga Pines. “We have to play a full game of football,” Jeans explained.” We can’t take the game lightly.”

Essa has faith that the team will put forth their best effort in what could be the final football game ever played on Red Storey Field.

“I believe we will all give it a 110% and show them the might of the Phoenix, win this game, and show our fans and teammates something they’ve never seen us do before,” he said. We plan to leave the field walking as the other team is limping, and this is where we will make history as the last team of Barrie Central Collegiate,” he went on. “The Phoenix may fall but it’ll rise from the ashes stronger then ever before.”


Another one of the many interesting stories surrounding the final team in Barrie Central history is the player-coach relationship between Jeans and his Dad, Alex Jeans. Son, Charlie, is glad that his Dad is on the sideline for every practice and every game, helping him refine his game.

“I think it is a positive,” says the younger Jeans. “My dad pushes me harder in and outside of practice. He knows my potential and so he pushes me harder to be able to reach it.”

Another late addition to the squad is Riley Gerow. Gerow is one of the smallest kids in the team, but when asked if he views his height as a disadvantage, his answer may surprise you.

“I would have to say no because when your running it’s easier to get low thsn someone who’s taller, he said.” And, also, it’s harder for them to get low enough to hit someone my height.”

Being a first year player, there has definitely been a learning curve for the 5’4, 115-pounder, but he credits the coaches for making things much easier.


“There definitetly has been a learning curve so far,” he admitted. “But the coaches are very helpful with any questions and they will help you if they think you need some help in a certain area.”

The key to growth in any facet of life, especially sports, is to improve yourself each and every day, and Gerow believes that he has improved his game dramatically since the beginning of the season.

“I think I’ve improved in my agility and on the field I’ve started to learn all the calls and plays,” he mentioned. And, above all, I’m really having fun with the team and on the field.”

As mentioned, the Phoenix get set for a very short week this week as they will only have two practice days in preparation for a Wednesday home date with the Nottawasaga Pines Timberwolves. That game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. from Red Storey Field in what is possibly the final football game ever to be played on the illustrious field.


Coming off their first win of the season, the Fighting Owls will look to build off that win and improve to 2-5 as they host the only remaining winless team in the SCAA, the 0-5 Orillia Knighthawks on Thursday afternoon. That affair kicks off at 1:30 p.m. at CCI.





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