Five years ago, St. Brieux School teacher Tate Johnson and then principal John Cassavant had an idea to put together a football team for students. Five years later, that team is taking its first foray into playoff action with this Saturday’s game against SHSAA 1A conference 1 winners Cumberland House. The quarter final game goes at 1:00 pm in St. Brieux.
While St. Brieux has had a strong tradition in basketball, it had never had a football program to build, but the coaches, volunteers and students were up to the challenge, says Johnson.
“There was a severe learning curve just learning the game,” Johnson admits. “St. Brieux has always been a big basketball town, but bringing in football, we had some stumbling blocks off the start. But as we built the program, our guys have learned more and more. We’re finally understanding and developing the intricate details.”
The squad drew its core from other sports that may not have been in full swing during the football months of September and October, Johnson says. That means students who traditionally play hockey and basketball lean into the fall football program with gusto.
The team went 3-4 in its conference season, but they pulled off a win in their all important conference final to advance.
“We played against Birch Hills and had two tough losses by one touchdown against them, we lost two against Wakaw, but we were able to put up wins against Carrot River, who are our 1A rivals.”
The conference final was a back and forth wrestle with some nervous moments for both teams. Down a pair of touchdowns just before halftime, Carrot River dug in their heels to put up a pair of majors themselves and led 30-28 at the half. After another Carrot River touchdown, the St. Brieux Crusaders’ defence galvanized and shut down the opposition for the remainder of the game. The St. Brieux offense went to work and landed two additional majors to hang on for a 44-36 victory.
Johnson likes his team’s chance in the quarter final against Cumberland House on Saturday, noting his team is clicking on all cylinders. The action gets under way in St. Brieux at 1:00.