By Andrew Mendler
The Centennial Chargers offense was running on all cylinders Friday as the team defeated the Quinte Saints 31-7 to advance to the Bay of Quinte high school football finals.
The Saints kept pace with the Chargers for the first half of the game, taking a 7-7 tie into halftime.
In the second half, the Chargers offense finally kicked in and the team never looked back, scoring 24 unanswered points to send them to the championship game next Saturday. They will face the Moira Trojans who easily defeated the Trenton Tigers 27-0 in the other semi-final game.
“Offense takes time, said Chargers head coach Scott Symons. “We’ve been kind of sick the last few days, [this kept] a lot of bodies away from practice. We were running the same plays all game. We just needed more reps.”
The Chargers featured a different look in the first half as they decided to start Dylan Stavely-Watson at quarterback. Watson had just returned from a knee injury he suffered against the Trenton Tigers earlier in the season.
“He is the leader of this team,” said Symons. “He was our QB in junior and won COSSA (Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics). He is a fifth-year guy and this is his last go.”
Watson quickly made his presence known, connecting with wide receiver Devin McCann on the second possession of the game. The long 46-yard touchdown reception put Centennial out in front 7-0.
Quinte bounced back a few minutes later when slot back Evan Vance returned a punt for a 96-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
Centennial changed their strategy on the last possession before half time by sending in Zach Chase to quarterback the team’s offense.
The move seemed to jump-start the Chargers offense leading to a couple of quick rushing touchdowns in the third quarter.
Sam Chartrand’s nine-yard touchdown put the Chargers on top 14-7. He and running back David Franks took over the third quarter making big run after big run. Franks broke through for a short rushing touchdown a few minutes later to give the Chargers a 21-7 lead.
“It was more of an offensive problem then a defensive one, said Saints head coach Rick Elliott. “We just couldn’t really generate any yardage, any sustained drives and it gave Centennial good field position a lot in the second half.”
The Chargers tacked on another passing touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter to make the final score 31-7 and send them to the Bay of Quinte Finals.
“Our leaders took over,” said Symons. “Our defense was absolutely stunning as always and our offense started moving the ball and we started to believe that if we do what we were coached to do we could score some points,” he said.
Across town, the Moira Trojans easily defeated Trenton to punch their ticket to a finals rematch with the Chargers.
“We are focused on Moira. We only beat them 9-0 last time we played them and it’s at Moira’s field too, said Symons.
The championship game rematch between the Charger and Trojans is set for next Saturday afternoon on Mike Schad Field at Moira Secondary School.