Battle Of The Saints: Most Dominant Private High School Football Program In Ontario

by Harry N. Dearden on Aug-18-2013

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This CISAA high school rivalry has been around for ages. Who has proven to be the most dominant school?
Henry Thoreau once wrote, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” How does one define domination in sport? The number of championship titles won, how many players have gone on to greatness, the style of play and composure a team consistently plays with? Two schools exemplify these approaches on and off the field. Both schools have a strong tradition of academic success and athletic dominance as Thoreau’s quote exemplifies.
 
The St. Andrew's College Saints football program has left a mark on Canadian football of late with astounding victories in the 2011 and 2012 CISAA championships, as well as producing players that have gone on to illustrious football programs. The Saints were established in 1899 and have been producing great talent ever since. Head coach Len Gurr spoke of how St. Andrew’s is able to foster great players, even attracting university teams from the United States. “We’re quite proud of our program’s consistent ability to produce NCAA caliber athletes. It’s a testament to the talent, character and work ethic that defines St. Andrew’s students.”
 
 
 
The Saints of Aurora finished the regular season campaign on top of the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) in grandiose fashion. SAC went undefeated in regular season play last year, defeating their opponents by an average of 31.6 points per game (yes, you read that statistic correctly). Top offensive player and quarterback Chris Merchant who played for the Calgary Falcons Midget Team before attending St. Andrew's has been invaluable to the program. In Calgary, Merchant produced very impressive numbers as he had 63 completions on 117 attempts, 1,235 passing yards and an average of 190 YPG, and six passing touchdowns while possessing a great running game, rushing for 206 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. When talking about the Saints run game we all already know about the sensational 17-year-old running back phenom Jonathan Femi-Cole, who has already garnered plenty of interest south of the border.
 
However, CISAA rival St. Michael’s College School has something to say about Canadian high school football domination. St. Michael’s is not a one trick pony when it comes to fostering athletic excellence. The Independent Catholic School is known for their hockey but they have produced notable NFL and CFL players as well. Alumni such as Glen Young, O.J. Santiago and Michael Labinjo, each of whom have competed in the Super Bowl, played football while attending the 161-year-old school. The Sr. Kerry Blues, as the football program at St. Mike’s is called, have won 7 Metro Bowls, making them the winningest team in Ontario in terms of bowls. From 2004 to 2008, St. Mike’s won 4 Metro Bowl titles.
 

When it comes to athletic philosophy, which is consistent with the founding principles of Catholic Basilian tradition, St. Mike’s believes that students should experience athletics as an integral part of a well-rounded education, adopting the classroom thought process and applying it to on-field play.
 
In the 2012 season, SAC finished on top of the CISAA division with an undefeated 5-0 record while the Sr. Kerry Blues tied for second with the Upper Canada College Blues posting a 3-2 record. Both teams made it to postseason play but St. Mike’s self-destructed losing to UCC 34-10. The game was marked by the return of Chris Amoah, UCC’s top running back. Wide receiver Marc-Andre Alexandre scored 2 TD's, Amoah got one TD and David Cottingham hit pay dirt as well.

SAC, on the other hand, easily defeated Ashbury College 44-7, with running back Cole Sopik leading the way on offence, scoring 4 touchdowns and adding 180 rushing yards. Merchant was his usual stellar self, throwing touchdown strikes to Malcolm Carter and Daniel Cummings, and extending several drives with his playmaking ability. As for the CISAA championship game, the Saints were able to defeat the Blues by a score of 21-14. Over the past three seasons, SAC has compiled a CISAA regular season and playoff record of 19-2. The Saints defence was responsible for the victory due to the injured-riddled offence in both the slot back as well as running back positions.
 
These two teams have a common philosophy and approach to athletics. In team play, one has to have equal mental and physical prowess on the field. As of late, St. Andrew’s College has proven to be one of the top dogs of Canadian high school football, and in this writer’s opinion, will continue their dominating play for years to come. The Sr. Kerry Blues have yet to show they can consistently hang with these new-look Saints, who have a deeper roster full of youthful talent that will, thanks to their recent dominance, keep them ahead of St. Mike’s and atop the Canadian high school football perch for the foreseeable future.
 
 

Photo Credits:
Logos: St. Andrew's College, St. Michael's College School
Feature: Lazy Poet Creative


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