Destiny Discover

Game opener celebrates the return of high school sports

By Larry Moko

The return game in football took on a whole new meaning.

Usually, the coaching term refers to special-teams play on punts and kickoffs.

But on this occasion, at sun-drenched Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School, the Titans and the Bishop Ryan Celtics returned to game action Friday afternoon for the 2021 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior high school league opener after all of last season was wiped out by COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be playing football,” coach Jim Davies said after his Celtics dropped a 28-14 decision to the Titans. “It didn’t go our way today but just being out here means a lot to our team, our school and all the coaches.”

Tonnos doesn’t have any players in its lineup with previous experience at the senior level. The Celtics have just two such veterans.

“It’s good to be back,” Titans coach Mark Marini said, pointing out that his squad has been practising for the last month. “It was something special to see the look on the kids’ faces when they were told ‘yes’ we could go (resume HWCAA sports) and ‘yes’ we could run a camp. It would have been painful to see another group of kids leave the school and not be part of what I think is the greatest team game.”

Individually, however, Isaiah Shields of the Titans stood out. He rushed for three touchdowns, including a 12-yarder in the opening quarter along with short plunges from the 2 and 1-yard lines.

“It feels great,” said Shields, who last competed 23 months ago when the Titans were eliminated in a junior quarter-final playoff. “The energy was ridiculous. At first, I felt so anxious I thought I was going to throw up …I’m so happy to be back on the field.

“We came in as underdogs and we went out as victors. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

According to Marini, Shields is a hard-driving player and fantastic leader. “He’s humble and plays the game the right way, respectfully.”

Bishop Ryan touchdowns came on a two-yard run by Antoine Allwood-Bennett and a 19-yard scramble by quarterback Ryan Harrison.

Tonnos recaptured the lead at 21-14 when Elliot Blake raced into the end zone on a 55-yard punt return.

Luca Tassone, who connected on all four convert attempts, set up Shields’ final TD by gathering in a long pass play from quarterback Ryan Begadon that covered 45 yards.

“I think some of our newer guys struggled with a bit of pressure,” Davies said. “We made a lot of mistakes that I hope we can correct.”

Said Marini: “It’s very encouraging for us because the bulk of our lineup is in Grade 11 now.”

Tonnos Principal Carm Barone said there was a “different atmosphere” at the game because students weren’t allowed in the stands.

“I’m happy we’re back and the kids enjoy being back. Obviously our kids worked hard to get ready for today. It showed in the results.”






Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham

Photo by Gerry Graham
Photo by Gerry Graham