Horseshoe romp leaves no doubt Lords are No. 1


There is the hockey player who now realizes his future lies in making tackles. There is the basketball player who had to convince his parents to give him the opportunity to catch passes and weave through defenders. And there is the quarterback who began his football career trying to stop others from doing what he now does with ruthless efficiency.
Of course, there are also football lifers, those who have played the game for as long as they can remember.
Despite their differing backgrounds in the sport, the 50 players who make up the Nelson Lords came together Tuesday and left little doubt they are the best in Ontario and, in the opinion of many, the best high school team in the country, with a 37-0 win over Niagara Falls’ St. Paul Patriots in the Golden Horseshoe Bowl.
“If I were a betting man, I’d say you’ll see (Nelson) No. 1 next Monday when the final rankings come out,” said Lee Barette, of “They’re probably more complete than any other team and they have the best quarterback in the country.”
You only needed to see the feeding frenzy along the sidelines after the Lords’ victory, to know this was a special team. Representatives from more than a dozen universities in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes made their pitch to Nelson players.
Almost an hour after the victory, Nelson receiver/return man Doug Corby, who hadn’t played a down of football until last September, was still listening to schools make their case as to why he should play for them next year.
“I really thought I’d be playing on hardwood, not turf, the rest of my life,” Corby said.
With performances like the one he put on at the Rogers Centre Tuesday, Corby has won over his reluctant parents. “They’re so happy,” he said. “They love it. They’re football fans now.”
Corby returned six kicks for 155 yards and caught four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. His returns of 58 and 43 yards set up Nelson in great field position.
That put the ball in the hands of Will Finch, the aforementioned “best” high school quarterback in the country. While the first return yielded only a single point, the Lords needed just three plays to put the second one in the end zone, capped by a 14-yard run by Ben Megarry that sent the Lords into the half up 21-0.
Even when the Lords didn’t have the benefit of field position, they showed just how quickly they can move the ball. On Nelson’s third possession of the game, Finch hit Corby for a 25-yard gain and then went deep to Megarry for 44 more yards. In just six plays, Nelson went 82 yards, ending the drive when Finch faked the handoff and rolled out to his right and threw a six-yard TD to Josh Vandeweerd.
‘We’ve been dreaming about this’
Not bad for a guy who started his football career in the Burlington Minor Football Association as a defensive tackle.
“It’s wild, unbelievable,” said Finch, who was 16-for-21 on the day for 256 yards and three majors. “We’ve worked so hard all season; we have great coaches. We’ve been dreaming about this.”
If St. Paul was dreaming about a Laval Vanier Cup-like comeback in the second half, that notion was quickly put to rest. Finch ran one in from three yards out to make it 28-0 three minutes into the second half and Vandeweerd caught his second TD pass of the day on Nelson’s next possession.
For all the attention Nelson’s offence has received during its 12-0 season, it is easy to overlook a defence that neutralized yet another of the best teams in the province.
“No team has ever seen an offence like ours,” Vandeweerd said. “We spread the field and we’ve got a great quarterback in Will, but it’s our defence that keeps giving us the ball. Some people thought our defence was a question mark but they showed it today. They stepped up.”
There might have been a question after St. Paul’s Ryan Niuewesteeg opened the game by breaking two long runs for a total of 45 yards. But the Lords surrendered just 84 yards in total offence the rest of the game.
“That’s been our mantra all season – bend don’t break,” said defensive back Tanner Philp. “No one got worried. We knew we couldn’t get away from our game plan. Our coaches prepared us for this.”
Whether it was Tyler Reeves swatting down passes, Rob Baylis and David Shuta delivering sacks or Brett Rideout picking off a pass, St. Paul was never able to establish momentum again. After its first possession, St. Paul never again ventured inside Nelson’s 50-yard line.
“We almost enjoy (being overlooked),” said linebacker Eric Juhl, who never played rep football, opting instead for hockey, but is now being recruited by university football programs. “It’s like we’ve got something to prove.”
Nelson allowed just an average of seven points through its five-game playoff run. And the defence just seemed to get better as the stakes got higher. After allowing a season-high 20 points against Cardinal Newman — a number padded by a last-play touchdown in a 43-20 victory — Nelson allowed only seven in the Horseshoe Bowl semifinal and then, playing in its third game in eight days, pitched a shutout in Tuesday’s championship game.
“I think our team speed on defence was just too much for them,” said Nelson head coach Bob Stacey. “Our defence hardly gets scored on, they just don’t give up points.”
Combine that with Nelson’s potent offence and it was no wonder Stacey kept fielding the same question following the game.
“Is this the best team I’ve ever had? I say, yes.”
Many would say the best in Canada




November 29th 11:05 am – Rogers Center

Nelson (GHAC, Burlington) 37
St. Paul (SOSSA, Niagara Falls) 0


Held at Centennial Stadium, Etobicoke

Thursday November 24th

Saint Paul (SOSSA, Niagara Falls) 37 vs. Notre Dame (ROPSSAA, Brampton) 27

Friday November 245th

Nelson (GHAC, Burlington)  45 vs. Our Lady of Mount Carmel (ROPSSAA, Mississauga) 7


Records (Including 2011 Golden Horseshoe Bowl)

SOSSA Overall Bowl Record: 2 wins, 6 losses
GHAC Overall Bowl Record: 11 wins, 5 losses

NRHSAA Overall Bowl Record: 2 wins, 5 losses
HSSAA Overall Bowl Record: 7 wins, 3 losses

Saint Paul Overall Bowl Record: 0 wins, 1 loss
Nelson Overall Golden Horseshoe Bowl Record: 2 wins, 1 loss
Nelson Overall Bowl Record: 4 wins, 1 loss

Statistical Summaries

Scoring Details
1st Quarter 04:50
Eli Pawliw, 40 yard punt
Nelson 1, St. Paul 0

Doug Corby, 5 yard pass (from Will Finch)
Nelson 7, St. Paul 0

 2nd Quarter
Josh Vandeweerd,
5 yard pass (from Finch)
Max Preocanin
Nelson 14, St. Paul 0

Ben Megarry, 14 yard run
Max Preocanin
Nelson 21, St. Paul 0

 3rd Quarter
Will Finch, 3 yard run
Max Preocanin
Nelson 28, St. Paul 0

Josh Vandeweerd,
4 yard pass (from Will Finch)
Max Preocanin
Nelson 35, St. Paul 0

Max Preocanin,
65 yard kickoff

Nelson 36, St. Paul 0

 4th Quarter
Marcel Cormier (field goal attempt)
Nelson 37, St. Paul 0


Team Statistics

St. Paul
(Niagara Falls


Rushing (att/yds.)



Passing (yds.)



Team losses



Net Yards



First Downs



Return Yards












Individual Statistics



Rushing (att./yds.)

Ryan Niuewesteeg 10/85
Andrew Oreskovich 7/21

Will Finch 5/56, td
Wes Millar 7/41

Receiving (catch/yds.)

Andrew Oreskovich 1/8
Ryan Niuewesteeg 1/6

Doug Corby 4/74. td
Josh Vandeweerd 6/49, 2td

Passing (comp/att/td/int)

Evan Murdza 4/16/0/1

Will Finch 16/21/3/0


Rodolfo Marinas 7
Myles Watson 7

Tanner Philip 5