The St. Joan of Arc (JOA) Knights defeated the Bear Creek Kodiaks, 24-7, on Wednesday to claim another Georgian Bay senior football title.
The Orillia Sports Complex hosted the two south-end Barrie teams in the Georgian Bay Secondary Schools Association (GBSSA) senior football final between the Catholic board champions and their public school counterparts.
The game was played in Orillia due to the site’s artificial turf being able to hold up no matter the weather conditions.
And that came in handy as the high school battle was decided in the snow after a recent winter wallop.
The regional championship is the seventh in Knights history and their third consecutive following wins in 2018 and 2019, the last time high school football was played. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the game, Knights head coach Nick Nicoletta told BarrieToday that he “couldn’t be prouder of his team,” and credited the team’s defense for today's win.
“We really pulled together in this one. It was a tough fought game and our defense really played great,” said Nicoletta. “Two of our players, (defensive end) Kyle Nesbit and (defensive back) Cam Taylor, were fantastic today.”
Nicoletta admitted to “a few offensive problems” early in the game, but saw his team bounce back and hold off a tough Bear Creek squad.
The Kodiaks won the Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA) football championship on Nov. 18 by beating the Eastview Wildcats, 36-8.
Bear Creek finished their regular-season schedule with a 3-2 record, while the Knights did not taste defeat all year.
In four regular-season games, JOA outscored their opponents 113-3.
In the Catholic final against St. Theresa’s, the Knights won 51-0.
Nicoletta credited those around him for program's ongoing success and how the Knights keep it going.
“That is all due to the commitment of the coaches here at the school. Everyone is so dedicated to the kids and the team; it makes going to the practices and games all that much easier,” he said.
The head coach helped create the Catholic school board’s football program and, since its inception in 2001, he has been at the helm of the Knights.
Despite the success of the 2021 team, Nicoletta doesn't see a celebration like those of the past.
“I’m not sure what will go on, but it certainly won’t be like before, I’m sure,” he said in reference to the pandemic. “We’ll all be glad when COVID is over, but we can still be proud of what we all accomplished in such a different season.”
The GB champion would usually go to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships, but it was announced in September that those were cancelled due to COVID.