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Stallions overcome bus breakdown, heat, foe to bring home crown

'This was the cherry on top of the icing,' said head coach Martin Di Sabatino of team's resilient efforts that capped a perfect season

Despite some bumps on the road to get to the final, the Huronia Stallions varsity team is once again Ontario Summer Football League (OSFL) champions.

The Stallions went into London’s Western University riding a perfect season and galloped home with a title after defeating the Sarnia Sturgeon 25-17 on a sultry Saturday night.

The trek to London started with a bad omen as the team’s bus broke down on Bayfield Street. The team waited an hour for another bus to show up before they were able to get back on the highway. 

Head coach Martino Di Sabatino, who said he was proud of his squad, said the way the team reacted to the bus issue was the way they reacted to challenges on the field.

“The buzzword for us after the regular season ended was resiliency. That was the case Saturday; we had to rely on being resilient,” said Di Sabatino.

“It was really hot that day, and waiting for an hour for another bus was bad enough, but the bus that came and took us to London didn’t have air conditioning. Now we get there, and have to wait a few hours for our game, which was pushed back," said the longtime coach.

Di Sabatino said the good thing about starting later was “the sun was down and sometimes there was a breeze.”

In a previous interview with BarrieToday, Di Sabatino said he felt his team had a tougher road to the finals than their counterpart.

“Lots of credit to them, they were a formidable opponent,” said Di Sabatino. “We had a game plan and we executed it to perfection in the first quarter. But that second quarter wasn’t how we planned. Heading into the half, they were up 14-10.”

Late in the game it was 18-17 for the Stallions and a touchdown after that sealed the win for the local team.

Asked if capping a perfect regular season with a championship was a breath of fresh air, the Stallions coach just laughed.

“I don’t know about fresh air, it was so hot no one could breathe,” said Di Sabatino. “But it definitely felt good as it sunk in. This was a long time coming for this club and it's a testament to the season of coaching and dedication from the players and their families.”

The last time the team won the provincial title was 1993. They have been to the playoffs and finals since then, but Di Sabatino said this was needed for everyone. 

“We are lucky to have a great system, I believe. Everyone buys into what we’re doing and over the years there has been great consistency, but it's been a while for that trophy,” said Di Sabatino. “This was the cherry on top of the icing.” 

The Stallions are undefeated in the regular season since 2018 and had their only two losses happen during the playoffs since then.

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Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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