Sports High School Sports

Bear Creek Kodiaks suffer loss at OFFSSA finals

By Stephen Sweet, Special to Postmedia Network

Noah Jacka, of the Bear Creek Kodiaks, carries the ball against a Thunder Bay St. Ignatius Falcons player during the OFFSSA finals in Hamilton on Tuesday. The Kodiaks lost the championship 29-16.

Noah Jacka, of the Bear Creek Kodiaks, carries the ball against a Thunder Bay St. Ignatius Falcons player during the OFFSSA finals in Hamilton on Tuesday. The Kodiaks lost the championship 29-16.

HAMILTON – This season was quite the roller-coaster ride for the Bear Creek Kodiaks.

Unfortunately for the senior boys football team, it ended with a loss.

The Kodiaks struggled offensively through large stretches as they fell 29-16 to Thunder Bay's St. Ignatius Falcons in the OFSAA Simcoe Bowl played at Tim Hortons Field on Tuesday.

“They played well defensively and had a good defensive team,” said Kodiaks coach Sam Loucks. “They picked off the ball a couple of times and really killed us there.”

Bear Creek, which defeated the four-time defending champion St. Joan of Arc Knights for its first Georgian Bay Secondary School Association title since 2010, was moving the ball early in Hamilton.

Noah Jacka and Hayden Greeley carried the ball for big gains, while quarterback Josh Cook hit Tyler Poole near the sideline for a first down.

With the ball at the eight-yard line, Cook dropped a pass into the hands of Jacka, who turned and ran the ball in to give Bear Creek a 7-0 lead.

St. Ignatius came storming right back though, and on its first play from scrimmage, Bryce Covello connected with Jake Robertson for a 74-yard Falcons touchdown to tie the game.

While Bear Creek's defence would strengthen itself after that long play, the offence began to hit some roadblocks.

On the next drive, Cook threw an interception that the Falcons took the other way for a touchdown, putting the Kodiaks behind 14-7 after a quarter.

Bear Creek would force a turnover itself shortly after, as Jack Malo read a pass straight up the middle and picked it off.

But as was the case on many occasions on Tuesday, the Kodiaks were unable to keep possession themselves, as the Falcons forced a fumble on a completed slant route to get the football back.

St. Ignatius looked to be set to find the end zone again minutes later, but Ben Jacka pounced on a fumble to return the ball to Bear Creek.

Pinned deep in its own end, the Kodiaks took a risk and lost possession once again, as another interception by the Falcons gave them prime field position, and from the eight-yard line, it only took St. Ignatius one play to strike, building up a 21-7 advantage.

“We were up against a tough wind in the second quarter and made some plays that were uncharacteristic of us,” Loucks said. “Their defensive back just sat in our routes and picked off the ball three or four times.”

Following a Falcons kickoff single, Cook attempted another pass that, after a deflection, wound up in the hands of Liam Puskas.

The St. Ignatius defensive back, with his third interception of the day, took the ball to the house, pushing Bear Creek into a 29-7 hole at halftime.

On the first Kodiaks possession of the third quarter, Jacka made some significant gains on a trio of runs to move the ball into the St. Ignatius half.

The drive appeared to stall, but Malo gained 18 yards on a fake punt to move Bear Creek into the red zone.

One play later, Cook's pass was tipped and picked off by St. Ignatius – one of six interceptions that plagued the Kodiaks on Tuesday – thus ending the hopes of a touchdown.

“It's a combination of (the quarterback, receivers and coaches),” Loucks said in regards to the half-dozen interceptions his team threw Tuesday. “It's always a combination of all three when it goes wrong, and I'm not going to blame it on any one person.

“A lot of factors come into play there.”

Bear Creek would pin the Falcons for a safety and keep the Thunder Bay school off the board in the second half.

However, it couldn't gain any traction on offence.

It took until late in the fourth quarter, on an extended drive, before the Kodiaks offence could get on the board.

On another third-down situation, Cook threw a screen pass to Poole, who followed his blockers for a 10-yard score, pulling Bear Creek to within 13.

“Obviously, they had a lot of pride and wanted to score,” Loucks said. “It was one of those things that was put together and we were passing the ball and our running game was solid.”

But the subsequent onside kick would fail, and on their final possession, a couple of incomplete passes would force a turnover on downs, ending the hopes of a Kodiaks comeback.

“It wasn't like they were crushing us or anything,” Loucks said. “We had the same quality of players.

“We just had some bad breaks that hurt us, but our guys played with a lot of pride and still came back pretty well.”

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