The EDSS junior football team captured its first-ever WCSSAA championship November 11 with a 17-7 win over the Jacob Hespeler Hawks. The win ended a streak for the Hawks, who were the six-time defending champions.
“They’re a phenomenal team, an absolutely incredible team. To beat them, that’s what makes it so great. When you beat a great team and you can kind of make the plays you know your guys can make,” said coach Alex Derma of the experience.
The Lancers, who finished the season 6-0, were ready to meet the challenge of playing the Hawks for the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association title, he added.
“We were more prepared for this game than we thought we could be. By Wednesday, we said ‘we’re ready to play right now.’ We were ready for these guys, for sure.”
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The achievement follows a season that was full of work to get there, Derma noted.
“When we knew we had so many guys returning. Right away, we got in the weight room and we had guys lifting and kept the team together to try to build that camaraderie – I think you can see it from the game on the field. They just had that camaraderie [and] the team feel and the buzz to go win it, and they did. They did everything they needed to do, which is awesome.”
Three interceptions helped pace the Lancers to the win, along with two rushing touchdowns from Sam Lageer. Karsten Smith added two extra points and a field goal to round out the scoring.
“It was a very close, tight game. They were able to beat us on a trick play, and then we were able to come back and tie it up.… Overall I think everybody played to the best [we could],” said Smith, who also played fullback and middle linebacker in the game.
This was the second time the Lancers beat the Hawks this year, he said.
“It feels really good, especially to beat a very, very strong team.”
Being a part of the first WCSSAA championship “feels great,” Smith added.
Derma said he hopes the players realize the importance of the history the team made.
“Never mind who you beat to win your first junior football championship – that’s something that no one can ever take away from you and it’s always on the banner. So you’ve always got that in your pocket as well as memories that can’t ever be taken away from that,” he added.
The win gives the program confidence going forward, said Derma.
“The whole point is junior [and senior football] work together and build a football program they can be proud of going up. With these guys going up, we’re trying to create that culture where this toughness and that skill and that discipline and the perseverance to show up to practice in bad weather and to play through a game like that goes forward. And then we got possibly two, three years to build on that again,” he said.
“Let’s make Elmira a football town.”