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Kodiaks claw out SCAA title win in nail-biter versus Vikings

'What pushed us over the top was our defence,' says Bear Creek QB Justin Cunningham; Kodiaks now face St. Joan of Arc in GBSSA championship game

The Bear Creek Kodiaks senior football team squeaked out a victory on Friday to clinch their third consecutive Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA) title. 

Up 16-8 at halftime, the Kodiaks found a way to hang on and beat the Barrie North Vikings, 16-14, in today's championship game, held at Maple Ridge Secondary School in Barrie's south end.

The Vikings scored late, but failed to convert on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game. 

Bear Creek's Daniel Reilly, who plays on both offence and defence, says it was an overall team win.

"We came out hard and our offence did really good in the first quarter," he told BarrieToday. "And then our defence held it in the rest of the game."

Kodiaks quarterback Justin Cunningham, who was named game MVP, also credited his team's defence for the big win.  

"What pushed us over the top was our defence," he said. "They were able to keep us in good position and that's how we won."

Fans react to a big hit on the sidelines during Friday's SCAA championship game. | Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

With Huronia Stallions football happening in the summer months, there are lots of familiar faces for players on both teams. 

"They're all good guys over there," Cunningham said. 

Bear Creek and Barrie North also faced each other in last year's SCAA championship game, with the Kodiaks winning 25-2.

The Kodiaks now look ahead to their south-end Barrie neighbourhood rivals, the St. Joan of Arc (JOA) Knights, in next week's Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSAA) championship game.

"It's always a tough game (against JOA)," Reilly said. "We have to keep our defensive presence and just keep driving on offence.

"We just have to keep pushing," he added. "There's always stuff to learn and little things to fix."

Kodiaks head coach Keith Jackson said he has been pleased with his team's progression this season. 

"This was another step in our ladder. This whole season has been about opportunity," Jackson told BarrieToday after the game.

"It was defence, defence, defence the second half," he added. "We couldn't put things together, we weren't clicking on the offence. We had a great first half on the offence, but the defence definitely held on for the game."

The coach also said his team's leaders stepped up when they needed to. 

"We have some great guys and everybody did their job, and that's what we expect," Jackson said. "Just small little mistakes, things we have to dial in." 

With the SCAA championship banner in hand, the Kodiaks will now move on to face the Knights next week for this year's GBSSA crown. The two teams are no strangers to each other. They also faced off in last year's SCAA championship, which the Kodiaks won, 20-3.

"We have a lot of work to do. JOA's a tough squad and we're expecting a good game on Wednesday night," said Jackson, who added he's also looking forward to his team executing more plays.

"We also need to cut down on some (penalty) flags," the coach added. "We had a lot of penalties in (the Barrie North) game. A turning factor in this game was the penalties."

St. Joan of Arc earned its berth into the GBSSA title game with a 28-3 victory over the St. Joseph’s Jaguars on Wednesday. 

Bear Creek also defeated the Eastview Wildcats in the 2021 SCAA championship, but then lost to St. Joan of Arc for the GBSSA title that year.

Wednesday's GBSSA championship game will be played at Georgian College's J.C. Massie Field. Kick-off on Nov. 15 is set for 5 p.m.

The Kodiaks will come into the GB title game with an unblemished 7-0 record, while the Knights sit at 9-0 after running the table in their loop with the Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County (CSASC).

The SCAA junior championship game, between Barrie North and Collingwood, was also played today. The Collingwood Fighting Owls won that game, 29-6, and will now take on the St. Peter's Panthers in the GBSSA junior game. 

The Panthers beat St. Joan of Arc, 22-15, earlier this week to punch their ticket to the GB title game.

The GBSSA junior game takes place Tuesday, Nov. 14 at J.C. Massie Field. 

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Raymond Bowe

About the Author: Raymond Bowe

Raymond is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting from Simcoe County since 2000
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