The goal-line stand is a classic moment in close football games, and it proved to be pivotal for the École Kelowna Senior Secondary Owls in winning the Subway Bowl North/Interior Championship.
The Owls beat the host Vernon Panthers 21-20 earlier this month.
The game went down to the wire as Vernon scored a late touchdown to make the score 21-20 and opted to go for the win by attempting a two-point conversion rather than playing it safe by kicking the one-point convert to tie the game.
The Owls defence stood tall, turning back the two-point attempt and then recovered the subsequent onside kick attempt to win the game.
The Central Okanagan Board of Education acknowledged the accomplishment of the Owls at its board meeting Wednesday (Dec. 15), as head coach Chris Cartwright cited the challenges his team has faced over the last two years.
COVID cancelled the high school football season last year, and the Owls were highly ranked heading into the playoffs this season when the November atmospheric river rainstorm cut off highway connections to the Lower Mainland, bringing a premature end to provincial high school playoffs.
“It has been a challenging football journey for us these past two years…but the perseverance of our kids has been outstanding,” Cartwright said.
“When the idea of having an Interior/North championship game came up, there was no hesitation among any of the players even if it was not the ideal situation.”
He noted how players last year kept their interest in the sport, working out and watching film, even though their season was lost due to the pandemic.
“That was pretty tough for the Grade 12s last year but this group stuck with it,” Cartwright said of the 30 players on this year’s team.
“I am incredibly proud of how all these players rose to the challenge…and they will all be fantastic leaders going forward in life,” Cartwright said.
The head coach was joined at the meeting by team captains Joey Howorko, Jack Nyrose, Everett Schmuland, Evan Fitchett and Jaeke Schlachter.
Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO, who was at the game, said the goal line stand was a high tension moment in what was an exciting game to watch.
He noted the contest marked the first time in two years the KSS student body was able to watch the Owls play a game in two years, again due to pandemic public gathering restrictions.
“To watch everyone storm the field at the end of the game was a cool moment,” he said.
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