–By Charlie Pinkerton
In Panda Bowl-esque fashion, Ashbury College students piled over the south section barricade at TD Place to celebrate with their team’s first ever OFSAA bowl title.
Facing North York’s Chaminade College in the Nov. 22 Independent Bowl, Ashbury’s Reinis Ustubs won the Colts their title by booting a 37-yard field goal with zeros across the clock. The kick made the final score 24-21, making Ashbury the lone Ottawa school to hoist a championship trophy.
Only seconds earlier, it looked as if the Colts had instead suffered heartbreak as it was Chaminade’s players who were celebrating with time expired. On the original last play of the game, Chaminade returned an Ashbury punt 75 yards for a touchdown, only to have it called back because of a penalty on the play. Ashbury’s field goal unit made them pay on the replayed down.
“I was pretty stunned and I felt for Chaminade,” said Ashbury head coach Jon Landon, who taught at Chaminade in the mid-2000s during the off-seasons that he was a member of the Toronto Argonauts. “It’s great being on the winning end but I’ve been on the losing end and I know how that feels, but (winning) was a pretty amazing feeling.”
After fighting back from being down 21-7 early, Ashbury would make what Landon called a “spectacular” goal line stand to preserve a tie game and allow the Colts to eventually pick up the victory.
Landon likened the play to the ending of the 2009 Grey Cup, in which the Montreal Alouettes bested the Saskatchewan Roughriders thanks to a too many men penalty committed by the Roughriders on the final play, which allowed the Alouettes to re-kick a game winning field goal that they had missed.
“I guess if it can happen in the CFL it can happen in high school football,” Landon said.
The bowl title is Ashbury’s first of the kind, coming in the first provincial title game they played in since 2002. The only team to beat them all season was Orlean’s St. Peter’s, who they lost to once during the regular season and once in the National Capital high school final by a score of 31-21.
“It was probably the best football we’ve played in a long, long time, so that was pretty exciting,” Landon said about his team this season. He’s now coached Ashbury’s senior team for the better part of a decade.
Both Ashbury and St. Peter advanced to OFSAA title games because Ottawa was the host city. St. Peter’s couldn’t secure a victory of their own, losing to Sault Ste. Marie’s Korah Colts 45-12 in the National Capital Bowl.
Elsewhere in OFSAA championship action, Franco-Cité won the silver medal for boys’ AA volleyball. Louis Riel won the boys’ A gold medal (More on them in the Team of the Month).
The tyke, peewee and bantam Cumberland Panthers, the mosquito Nepean Eagles and the midget Kanata Knights were each crowned champions of their respective age groups in the National Capital Amateur Football Association in November.