Golden Horseshoe Bowl


Date: December 8th

Venue: Rogers Centre, Toronto

Nelson (Halton, Burlington) defeated Notre Dame (Niagara, Welland) 

Preliminary Games:

The two finalists from Peel automatically advanced to the semi-finals.  In the Peel Championship game, St. Thomas Aquinas Cardinals (Brampton) defeated Notre Dame Knights (Brampton) 16-14.

Championship teams from each of Niagara, Hamilton Public, Hamilton Catholic and Halton each played quarterfinal games.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Niagara, Welland) 18, Waterdown Warriors (Hamilton Public, Waterdown) 14
Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference Championship
Nelson Lords (Halton, Burlington) 44, St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (Hamilton Catholic, Hamilton) 27

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Niagara, Welland) 38, St. Thomas Aquinas Cardinals (Peel, Brampton) 8
Nelson Lords (Halton, Burlington) 35, Notre Dame Knights (Peel, Brampton) 0

Nelson Lords (Halton, Burlington)
14, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Niagara, Welland) 9

The Burlington Post recap, written by Kevin Nagel, from December 9th follows:

Every few years Nelson coach Bob Stacey and his Nelson Lords travel down the QEW for a championship football game at the Rogers Centre.

And like the other two visits, the Nelson Lords came home with a championship trophy.

The Lords held on for a 14-9 victory over previously undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish of Welland to win the Golden Horseshoe Bowl. The two previous wins were for the Metro Bowl title .

"It's as good as the others, but the fact that my son (Zack) is with me is awesome," said Stacey. "It makes it more special."

It wasn't a vintage game for the younger Stacey, but he contributed his share of big plays to help the Lords stave off a hard-charging Irish team that seemed poised to eventually take the lead.

Only a series of turnovers, and some penalties, combined to stymie the Welland team's chances.

Of the Irish's six possessions in the first half, they ended in punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception and expiry of the clock.

The last series outcome may have hurt the most, when, with no time remaining, Notre Dame quarterback Zach White hit Steve Hughes, who took the ball 12 1/2 yards before being tackled. Unfortunately for the Irish, the end zone was 13 yards away, which allowed Nelson to retain its 14-0 lead at halftime.

Notre Dame continued to move the ball in the second half, scoring midway through the third quarter on an easy 13-yard TD run by Dave Kalmats, and threatened the remainder of the game.

Nelson opened the scoring on the last play of the first quarter when Zack Stacey ran the ball in from the one-yard line. Halfway through the second quarter, the Lords' only other TD came on a two- yard run by Jim Martyniuk, who showed some extra effort to score after initially being stopped.

The Lords went into a funk of their own after that, with the final eight possession ending in punt, punt, punt, interception, interception, safety (given up by Stacey late in the fourth), and a fumble, before running out the clock.

The Irish blew another glorious chance to score with six minutes remaining in the game when, at the Nelson two-yard-line, a Notre Dame fumble was recovered by Lords' Mike Spence.

With less than two minutes remaining, Lords' Dave McMurrough fumbled the ball away to the Irish, but teammates Will Porter and Peter Cranston combined to sack White on the next play. When White attempted to get the yards back, Lords' Russ Jirgins picked him off to finally vanquish Notre Dame.

McMurrough and Duncan McNeil had the other Nelson interceptions in the second quarter.

Irish quarterback White was 19 for 26 for 247 yards, with three interceptions, while Lords' Stacey was only 4 for 12 for 64 yards and two picks.

Wide receiver Hughes had a big day for the Irish, collecting 133 yards on eight catches.

"We missed Manny (Campbell, a receiver out with a broken wrist) and they took Russ (Jirgins) out of the game," said coach Stacey. "We needed that double threat. They wouldn't let us pitch the ball, either. But I like the way we gutted it out."

Notre Dame coach Tim Bisci said his team had its chances.

"We couldn't get it done in the red zone," he said. "We had a shot at (winning). We were a little bit awestruck at the beginning but we settled down."

Gabe Deneau, who earned special praise from Stacey along with linebacker Nic Diniz and McNeil for their defensive work, felt the effects of the opponents and the heat.

"We just needed to stay on top," he said. "They came close at the end."

Coach Stacey stressed the unique situation took its toll.

"People don't realize how hot it is in here. Players from both sides started cramping," he said. "And poor Dave (McMurrough) was just trying to get some extra yards (on his fumble). (Notre Dame) was punching the ball all day."

He praised the Welland team's effort. "They're as good as we've faced this year," he said. "They have a good run/pass combination."

Zack Stacey, meanwhile, summed up the feeling of the team after receiving the winners' trophy.

"We can relax, now," he said. "Finally, we're the best."

Scoring Summary

Nelson 14 Notre Dame 9
Zack Stacey TD
Jim Martyniuk TD
Dave McMurrough 2C
Dave Kalmats TD
Matt Falvo C
Team SFT