Metro Bowl


Date: November 27th

Venue: SkyDome, Toronto

Nelson Lords defeated Central Tech Blues

Central Tech (TSSAA) 7,West Hill (Scarborough) 0
St. Michaels College (TDCAA) 37, Richview (Etobicoke)14
Nelson (Halton) 43, St. Andrews (Independent) 32 (OT)
St. Mary (Hamilton Catholic) 42, Barton (Hamilton Public) 23 {West Bowl}

Nelson 59, St. Mary 8
Central Tech. 26, St. Michaels 13

Metro Bowl
Nelson Lords 22, Central Tech Blues 20

The Hamilton Spectator published the following report from Larry Moko on December 1st:

They were called too small and too young. And after two games of the Halton Secondary Schools Athletic Association regular-season schedule, their record was 0-2.

But that same Nelson Lords' senior team blossomed into 1999 Metro Bowl champions.

The Lords of Burlington defeated Toronto's Central Tech Blues 22- 20 at SkyDome Saturday to capture the unofficial championship of high school football in Ontario.

It was Nelson's second provincial gridiron title in the past three years (there was no Halton league in 1998 because of the teachers' dispute).

Nelson's victory at the 18th Metro Bowl was remarkable for the following reasons:

* Lords had a 15-year-old Grade 11 quarterback at the controls;

* Their Metro Bowl opponents built a 12-1 early lead;

* Three Nelson touchdowns were disallowed by penalties.

"I'm proud of the whole team," said Nelson coach Bob Stacey, whose squad got a boost from a large and enthusiastic group of Lords' supporters.

"We've grown together this year. We kept our composure. We didn't roll over from those call-backs by the officials early in the game. We hung in."

Central Tech led 12-7 at the half thanks to Dwight McKenzie, who rushed for 200 yards on the day. His scoring runs covered six and 62 yards.

The Toronto squad failed on its first two conversion attempts, however -- Ian Leggat's kick went wide and Lords' Ryan Bechmanis knocked down a pass attempt in the end zone on Blues' second- quarter two-point try.

Nelson got its first major score with four minutes, eight seconds left in the half when running back Jesse Lumsden sped wide on an 18- yard run to the end zone. Lumsden, who had touchdown runs of 76 and 45 yards disallowed by penalties, was named Nelson's Most Valuable Player.

Penalties didn't only hurt the Lords, though. A key roughing the kicker call on Nautyn McKay-Loescher against Lords' punter Jon Behie kept Lords' drive alive to set up Lumsden's major score.

"If we didn't get a score in the first half doing all that stuff (touchdowns that were called back) we would have been in big trouble," Stacey said.

The third quarter belonged to Nelson. Wide receiver Blair Mearns gave Lords the lead on their opening drive. He made an over-the- shoulder catch near the flag of a perfectly lofted 33-yard pass by Behie.

"Jonnie got it out there so I could get underneath it and grab it," said Mearns, who caught a total of five receptions for 113 yards.

"Our offensive line did a helluva job They -- Chris Behie (C), Brandon Vermeulen (G), John Thomas (G), Matt Lannon (T), Matt Willard (T), Bechmanis (E), Chris Keith (TE) -- are not the biggest line, but they've got heart. They won it for us in the trenches."

Lumsden's two-point conversion run put Nelson ahead, 15-12.

Blues then marched down the artificial turf before stalling when kicker Andre Taylor had a 24-yard field goal attempt blocked by Matt Coolich. It was a wild play because holder/quarterback Ian Joseph picked the loose ball up and tossed a pass to a wide open teammate who couldn't make the easy catch in the end zone.

A lanky lefthander, Joseph said: "I'm not going to name names, but receivers couldn't make big catches when we needed them.

"It was a good game. I honestly didn't feel, though, that we played Central Tech football. Nelson capitalized, executed and won the game."

The most electrifying play of the contest involved Lumsden. He took a flip pass and brilliantly weaved his way 90 yards before being pulled down from behind by Andre Colquhoun on the four yard line. From there, Behie rolled out and tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Wade Currie.

Owen Stidwell, who earlier scored a first-quarter single off a wide field goal attempt, converted Currie's touchdown to give Nelson a 22-12 lead entering the final quarter.

Blues then made their own comeback attempt. And, again, it was McKenzie who did the damage. The 5-foot-4 lightning-quick running back got first downs on two consecutive third down tries before capping the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Joseph then passed for the two-pointer to Dwayne Mundle.

Blues appeared to be in position to regain the lead with seven minutes, 30 seconds remaining when they recovered a Lumsden fumble at the Nelson 29. Two plays, later, however, Central Tech's Charles Holder fumbled and Lords' defensive back Jordan Petrie recovered.

"We create the fumble and then we give it right back to them," Central Tech coach Chuck Wakefield said as he shook his head. "That was the key play of the game."

An interception by Petrie with 30 seconds left put the final nail in Central Tech's coffin.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Lords' middle linebacker/ fullback Dave Wilson said of the provincial title. Wilson and fellow two-way performer John Thomas are the only veterans from Nelson's Metro Bowl conquest of 1997.

"We got some tough breaks, but we came through. We also had a lot of players playing injured.

"Everybody was in at 9 o'clock (Friday evening). We got a good night sleep and were ready to play this morning (a 9 a.m. start)."

Stacey said the scrambling ability of Behie plus Nelson's superior conditioning were determining factors against their larger opponents.

"Jon has a lot of poise," the Nelson coach said. "His bootleg motion took a lot of energy out of them in chasing him. They were sucking air big-time in the second half."

Lumsden, incidentally, is the only Nelson player who saw action in 1998 when the HSSAA was shut down. That season, he attended Port Hope's Trinity College of the Toronto area independent school league.

"We were really pumped up for this one," said Lumsden, who received the game's award as Nelson's Most Valuable Player.

"Jonnie (Behie) is an awesome quarterback. I don't think there's anything he can't do."

Lumsden's father, Neil, also was in attendance for the game. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats' general manager flew home from the Grey Cup in Vancouver in order to watch his son's big game.

Lords have won four consecutive Halton titles and next year they'll attempt to become the first three-time winners in Metro Bowl history.

"We've got a lot of guys returning next year," 17-year-old Lumsden said.


Scoring Summary

Nelson 22 Central Tech. 20
Jesse Lumsden TD, 2PtC
Blair Mearns TD
Wade Currie TD
Owen Stidwell C, S
Dwight McKenzie 3TD
Dwayne Mundle 2PtC