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Glenn Thibeault - MPP for Sudbury
Bran-Kor Trophies & Engraving
Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2017
Regals and Vikes crowned as flag football champs
2016-11-02
by Randy Pascal

The Marymount Regals have a sixth straight SDSSAA flag football championship win to celebrate - but they sure don't get any easier, with every passing year.

The league powerhouse, which also extended a winning streak that stretches for 22 games over three seasons, needed double overtime before finally slipping past the Confederation Chargers 6-0.

Allison Byrnes recorded the game-winning score, amidst a dense fog that surrounded players from both teams, on a short run. Without a doubt, this game belonged to the defences.

"We have won a (championship) game 1-0, and it was a defensive battle, but not to the extent of this one," said Marymount head coach Dan Bartolucci. "I think since that game in 2011 (against Lockerby), the game has grown a lot more."

Daily practices are common among several teams, with the folks in charge of the various squads spending more and more time devising schemes and adjusting them. "A huge shout out to our defensive coach, Jason Weiler," exclaimed veteran linebacker and defensive co-captain, Taylor Watkins.

"He's done so much for our defensive line - he's absolutely amazing. He's the core of our defence and keeps us going." And while points may have been tough to come by in the final, the Regals did register more than 130 points in eight games this year, with quarterback Jordyn Brousseau recognized as game MVP in the final.

"At the beginning of practice, the offense and defense work on their own," explained Watkins. "Near the end of practice, we come together and scrimmage against each other. I think that's most beneficial, because it seems to be working."

"We wouldn't have a team if it wasn't for our defence," noted Byrnes, the overtime hero. "They're crazy. I am really happy we have the defence that we do. We're about to run our plays, in practice, and yes, they catch on to the plays, but that just makes us stronger."

Still, with a "six-peat" on the line, the Regals were certainly feeling the pressure. "Everyone was really positive, but you could tell the nerves were getting to us," said Byrnes. "The girls were shaking, but we tried to channel that into positive energy."

"We owe it to the coaches, to the alumni, to everyone. It's something that I am just so happy to be part of." Byrnes and Watkins are both in grade 12, part of a large and talented crew that will graduate next June, a factor that entered into play with the game on the line.

"It was a blast 3-5," said Byrnes of the game's only touchdown. "The quarterback wanted me to take it. And (fellow running back) Cassidy Burton said, "it's your last year, take it". I'm just so happy that she's at my side, running with me."

And though there will be turnover in the ranks, Watkins remains optimistic. "We are losing a lot of senior players, but we have a good group of rookies coming up, so I don't think that Marymount has anything to worry about," said Watkins. "It's the passion, the passion that the girls share and the confidence that the team has in each other, I think that will keep Marymount going."

As for the Chargers, coaches Catherine Carriere and Brad Smith overcame the off-season loss of their most impactful young player - Madison Laberge ventured south to pursue her hockey aspirations - and managed to rebuild a team around offensive catalyst Kaitlyn Walker.

The young quarterback managed to break free, from time to time, but ultimately could not string any kind of sustained pressure that the Marymount defence could not handle. Meanwhile, the Chargers' defence were every bit as dominant in holding the Regals offense at bay, with middle linebacker Sierra Aubertin and company coming up big time and time again.

Interestingly enough, the Division "B" final may have set the tone for the "A" matchup, as the Lockerby Vikings were credited with a safety touch, when Emma McDougall raced down a Horizon Aigles punt returner in the end zone, just enough to allow the Vikes to claim the banner with a 2-0 win.

That victory will allow Lockerby to earn a promotion back to the "A" loop, where they have competed for the bulk of the time that their program has existed. As for the Aigles, only in year three and benefitting tremendously from the expertise of long-time Marymount coach Mattew Wiecha, city title hopes will have to be shelved for just one more year.

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