The Park Manor Senior Public School varsity touch football team took home the championship for the first time since 1995 after an extremely successful season of teamwork and effort by the young athletes.
After a lackluster season last year, the Park Manor students pulled off an overtime win in the championship game against Lester B. Pearson to secure the title.
“It is just a great group of athletes this year,” said coach Ken Lubert.
Lubert has been coaching the touch football team for more than 20 years now, but this year came in extra special for the seasoned coach, having only won the championship once 22 years ago.
Among the team roster were Grade 8 students Gage Bott, a rookie, and veteran Lucas Carson.
Each of these young athletes can now call themselves football champs, however neither of the boys plays football out of school, or ever before, in Bott’s case.
So why did he try out? Well a push from the coach.
“Probably one of the biggest differences was Gage as a rusher – he is so fast, they couldn’t get away from him,” he said of the athlete.
Making it a little easier to scope out young talent as the resident physical education teacher, Lubert saw that he would be a great asset to the team – and that proved true throughout the season.
“I felt like my teammates would need me. I would need them as well, so if I tried out – maybe I could make it and play a key roll,” said Bott of his initial thinking in joining the team.
And that happened to ring true. Although it’s a team sport, Bott as a new rusher on the roster helped the team to post a 3-2 regular season record.
Lubert explained because it was touch football – having fast kids come out to play really made a difference both defensively and offensively.
Among those was the success the young quarterback Carson had at not only making passes but also being a key leader on the team.
“Lucas was a really good leader this year and that’s so important on offence. He calmed everyone down, if someone dropped the ball he would go right back to them to get their confidence back up,” said Lubert. “But also Lucas did a great job as quarterback at finding people – you have to be able to find people that are open on offence, and he did a great job at that. Then any guys that weren’t blindingly fast they were able to make the catch so we were moving the ball.”
The teamwork on the field helped them get to the championship game after a bit of a slow start, but even after a few early season adjustments offensively – letting down the structured plays that once used to work, to allow for a bit more flexibility on the field – claiming the title was no easy feat.
“It was crazy. It was back and forth the whole game,” explained Lubert of the championship game.
The team battled back conversion after conversion to tie the game at 21-21 before taking four of the five converts to win it all.
Winning in overtime was a fitting end for a hard working group of Panthers, he suggested.