Both EDSS football teams came away with bragging rights on Oct.8, destroying Waterloo-Oxford District Secondary School at the annual Battle of the Barns in Elmira.
For the junior boys, the first half went without a touchdown, locked at 3-3. But Elmira came into its own in the second, taking the game 16-3. Elmira touchdowns were scored by Keshawn Holland and Bennett Uliana. They sit third in the league with two wins and one loss. Waterloo-Oxford has yet to win a game this season.
The senior team fared even better, not allowing Waterloo-Oxford to score a single touchdown or field goal all game. EDSS took the game 42-0. Elmira is second in the league with a 2-1 record. WODSS hasn’t won a game yet.
Senior football coach Steve Karn said there are only four of their starting players back from last year, but that hasn’t slowed them down.
“The last three years we’ve been strong with a lot of seniors. This year we’re pretty young as a senior team, but you know what, the boys are working really hard. Hopefully this week we can rebound after last week. We lost 31-21 to KCI and we made a lot of mistakes that a young team’s going to make. But this week hopefully we’ve worked out some of the kinks and we’ll be good,” Karn said prior to their win over Waterloo-Oxford.Leading Elmira were Greg Huber and Jacob Fulton with 18 points apiece, and Nathan Schlupp with six.
Their quarterback took a late hit before the Kitchener Collegiate Institute game and had to sit out. Karn substituted his running back for that game. He said the loss to KCI could have gone either way.
“At KCI we were winning at halftime 7-3 and then without my quarterback we were trying our best. And it was 24-21 with three minutes left and we were marching the ball down the field and our receiver caught it and he was trying to get extra yards and their defender stripped it away from us. Then they went the other way and scored another touchdown,” Karn said.
He noted they’re missing their quarterback Jordan Frey who played three years of senior football with them, but their new quarterback is strong and doing a good job. Frey was on hand with the coaching staff for the Battle of the Barn.
“Last week I think we had three turnovers and the team that has the most turnovers isn’t going to win usually. So we made some key mistakes at key times. That’s the growing pains being young. They have a lot of positives. Greg Huber, he’s had five touchdowns for us now as a receiver. We’ve had some really positive, big things happen. It’s just getting everybody to learn all the basics and get them down pat. We’re only going to get better each game, that’s the positive,” Karn said.
This was the first time the two teams have played since 2011 because WODSS was in the B pool of the league. Elmira won that time too.
Last year’s senior team was on the right track until three of their key players were injured in the final stretch of the regular season. They lost to Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School in the quarter-finals last year. Karn said last year’s string of injuries was the most they’ve had in the 12 years since starting the football program at EDSS. He’s hopeful they’ll make it out of this season largely unscathed.
“Eventually bad luck catches up to you, but hopefully this year we won’t have that issue and we’ll just be able to keep moving and progressing each game without having to worry about injuries. It’s a contact sport. It’s the same as anything, like hockey, you’re definitely going to have some bumps and bruises along the way, hopefully just everybody’s able to continue playing.”
This year the WCSSAA football format changed. They used to have to play all the A team because they were in the elite division, but after removing the Catholic school board teams they made two even pools of seven teams. Come playoff time the top four teams in each pool will cross over and play each other.
“I think we can compete with anybody really. We have a good talent pool, so we’ve been impressed actually. Our first game we won 42-14 over Glenview Park,” Karn said.
Up next, they’ll play the two-time defending champs, Jacob-Hespeler Secondary School. He says that will be their hardest game. JHSS has some 15 players who play rep football on top of their high school football. That experience adds up.
But if the Battle of the Barn game proved anything, it’s that Elmira is in it to win it.
“They’ll be in every football game. They’ll work hard, that’s the good thing about them. That’s one of the things we’ve always prided ourselves on is they never give up and they always work hard. And this group of kids is no different than that. They’re the same motto,” said Karn.
Both teams returned home on Oct. 14 looking to take on JHSS.