Two crosstown rivals, one football championship trophy on the line and about 200 people cheering both squads on from the sidelines.
That was the scene Thursday afternoon as the Barrie North Vikings faced the Eastview Wildcats for the Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA) senior football title at J.C. Massie Field at Georgian College.
For the Barrie North Vikings, who were coming off a dominant 50-1 win over the Collingwood Fighting Owls in last week’s SCAA semifinal, it was a much closer game against the Wildcats in Barrie on Thursday. The Vikings were down 6-1 at halftime.
The Vikings-Wildcats title game came down to the wire, with Barrie North pulling off an 8-6 win to claim the SCAA trophy and punch their ticket to the Georgian Bay Secondary Schools Association (GBSSA) title game against the St. Joan of Arc Knights, who are the champions from the Catholic school board.
“We knew this was going to be a tough fight,” Barrie North coach Burke Erwin told BarrieToday on the field after the win as his players hooted and hollered around him.
Erwin said the Wildcats came out strong.
“They stuck to a game plan that I didn’t expect them to," he said. "They ran a lot more and they did a very good job running, which caused us some problems on defence.
“Their defence was relentless,” Erwin added. “They swarmed us and we had difficulty sustaining anything.”
Erwin said it took a lot to prepare for Eastview.
“We had to fight through a lot of self-doubt and nervousness this week with 14 or 15 ... Grade 13s,” he said. “It’s almost like the elephant in the room that we all know is there and we had to address it. And we did.
"We want the GB championship," the coach added.
The GBSSA championship game is set for Saturday, Nov. 17 at J.C. Massie Field, with kickoff at noon.
St. Joan of Arc defeated the St. Thomas Aquinas Stingers, 28-7, on Wednesday at J.C. Massie Field to capture their fourth straight Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County (CSASC) championship.
Erwin says he knows the Vikings and the Knights will match up well.
“Well, we have a lot of respect for their program,” he said, adding playing a tight game against Eastview should also help prepare the Vikings for St. Joan of Arc. “Perhaps we needed to go through this game (against Eastview) to be ready for what we’ll have to through next weekend.
“There will be a lot of pressure on these kids,” Erwin added. “There was a lot of pressure in this game and if we lose this game (against Eastview), we don’t get to play the next game and the next game is what they really want.”
For now, the Vikings will take some time to regroup, rest up and get ready for St. Joan of Arc.
“We understand our opponent and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Erwin said.
Barrie North and St. Joan of Arc are both coming into the GBSSA title game after waging undefeated campaigns, so something will have to give to see who advances to OFSAA to face some of the best competition in the province.