Bishop O'Byrne upsets Notre Dame to win first Division 1 championship
The Division 1 high school football season finally reached its climax this weekend as the Bishop O'Byrne Bobcats upset the undefeated Notre Dame Pride in the City Finals.
For three consecutive years these two powerhouse teams have duked it out for the right to call themselves champion and on Saturday, for the first time, Bishop O'Byrne earned that right, defeating their rival in a shocking 20–8 victory.
The championship win was a first for Bishop O'Byrne and head coach Derek MacCready, who claimed that Notre Dame always brings out the best in him.
"The best thing to happen to me in coaching football was the fact that I've had to coach against Dave Diluzio," MacCready said. "He is a ridiculously good coach and you're going to have to be ridiculously good if you're going to take him on."
Coach Diluzio and his Pride jumped out to an early 7-0 lead Saturday, thanks to an impressive scoring drive executed primarily by their running game. Notre Dame was in control after the first quarter and things were going as many expected.
The second quarter, however, brought forth a sequence of events that even the Bobcats faithful may not have predicted. In a matter of minutes O'Byrne responded to Notre Dame's score with a rushing touchdown of their own to tie the game 7–7.
The Bobcats defensive unit, seemingly inspired by the play of the offence, began to assert dominance over Notre Dame, who came into the Finals with the top ranked offence in Division 1 football. In the ensuing series the speedy O'Byrne defence blocked a Notre Dame punt, resulting in another quick score for the Bobcats offence.
Notre Dame was able to tally one more point on the board before halftime, but the momentum was clearly in O'Byrne's favor to begin the third quarter. The Bobcats continued to bring pressure on the Notre Dame offence, and the typically potent Pride offence seemed helpless and at times confused as to what the Bobcats were doing on the defensive side of the ball.
"We scored and they answered straightaway," Pride coach Diluzio said. "They're just a very good defensive team. I think that right away they got the momentum back in their favor."
In the fourth quarter the trend of Bobcat defensive dominance continued as they blocked yet another Notre Dame punt. As the ball rolled into the Pride end zone, players from both sides plunged to the turf in an attempt to recover the ball, but it was the lighting-quick O'Byrne side that came up with the ball and the touchdown.
As the final seconds of the game ticked down, the O'Byrne sideline and fans alike erupted in jubilation. Team captain Brayden (Tweeter) Twarynski described the moment as the pinnacle of his high school football career.
"This win has been four years in the making. We've finally done it," Twarynski said. "This has been our biggest hurdle and we've finally overcome it. It feels great. We've worked so hard for this and I'm glad that all the hard work is paying off now. "
The 20-8 victory was a drastic improvement on their Week 3 encounter with the Pride, where they were defeated convincingly 28-0.
"Game 3 against Notre Dame was very helpful to us," MacCready said. "We only ran a base defence, which taught the kids the appropriate way to stop them. They are the best offence in the city. This game we just mixed it up so they never knew when we were going to play a base defence and when we were going to bring pressure."
MacCready spent 11 years in the CFL as a defensive lineman for teams including the B.C. Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos. MacCready has successfully implemented in the Bobcats the same defensive mindset that helped bring him a Grey Cup with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in his final year as a player in 1999.
"MacCready is a great coach. His teams are always physical and they're always going to be very aggressive," Diluzio said. "He's done a great job with O'Byrne and as disappointed as I am for our program, coaches and most importantly our kids, I do feel good for Derek."
Bobcats offensive captain Jarvis James, who was responsible for two of O'Byrne's touchdowns, said the team rallied around MacCready to beat the Pride.
"Our defence is the best in the league and they have been for the past three years. This was one of the games we had to win," James said. "MacCready hasn't won at this level so we had to do it for him."
- By Daniel Ball