The county’s two most dominant senior football teams met on the gridiron for the second consecutive season, with the same team walking off the field holding the trophy high.
Back in Week 4 of the Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA) schedule, the Barrie North Vikings lost 40-22 to the Eastview Wildcats and were just an addition to the unblemished 6-0 record the Wildcats brought to today's championship game.
Barrie North’s 5-1 record made them the underdog, a position that head coach Peter Glass told BarrieToday made Thursday’s game much different than last year’s final between the two city teams.
“I’d like to think it was like last year, but it wasn’t,” Glass said. “I would like to think last year we were the favourites going in with a perfect record. Last year, the pressure was all on us, but today we didn’t feel that way.
“We knew we were going to be in a fight, but we just believed that we nothing to lose right from the start," the coach added.
The Vikings took to a running game until the Wildcats figured that out and then Glass told BarrieToday it was time to switch it up.
“Our game plan was to run a bit of a balanced offence from the start,” he said. “Our running game took off a little bit, but they eventually found ways to prohibit that, so we started to widen the field with some passes. It seemed to work and the guys executed plays well enough that we could get a lead and hold onto it.”
The Vikings got off to a good start in the first quarter, with a field goal from Aden Kouji and a touchdown by slotback Gabe Gain to put the green and gold up 10-0.
Gain’s touchdown heated up the many Viking fans who came out to J.C. Massie Field at Georgian College and got his team pumped on the sidelines.
“The play came in and I was just trying to catch the ball and get a first down,” said 18-year-old Gain. “I got hit, got out and was able to head to the end zone."
Gain told BarrieToday the Vikings are a tight group.
“This team has a lot of cohesion and we’re all buddies," he said. "There’s no drama in the locker room and it is always positive. This year was one of, if not my favourite, year of playing for the Vikings.”
North would add another 10 points in the second quarter with another field goal from Kouji and a major from Clayton Mrazek.
Kouji would split the uprights once more in the third quarter en route to the Vikings' 23-6 victory over the Wildcats and back-to-back SCAA championships.
Brett Laasko scored the lone touchdown for Eastview, the Wildcats were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion.
Eastview head coach Tom Fontaine told BarrieToday that North got off to a good start and his team just wasn’t able to get on the board, causing them to fall behind early.
“You can’t win if you can’t score,” Lafontaine said. “They blocked a couple of kicks and ended up with the scores, and we just couldn’t recover from it.
“We certainly didn’t take North lightly," the coach added. "We had a tough game with them earlier in the season; things just went their way in the first half and didn’t stop.”
Fontaine said it was hard to see his players fall in the SCAA title game.
"We’ve got some great kids and they’re devastated, especially the guys who won’t be back," he said.
Barrie North running back Matt Koufis, who is in his final year of high school, took home offensive MVP honours from Thursday’s championship game.
Koufis told BarrieToday he will look back on more than just awards in his time as a Vikings football player.
“I started in Grade 9 and remember my first practice like it was yesterday,” he said. “What stands out to me is good Vikings football, great coaching over the years, being a good student-athlete, and putting the work in while I was here.”
But it's not the end of the line for Barrie North.
The Vikings will now face Barrie's St. Joan of Arc Knights on Thursday, Nov. 14 at J.C. Massie Field at 3 p.m., for the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) senior championship.