Titans take silver in GHAC championship

Titans take silver in GHAC championship
Posted on 11/22/2023
BT football player

By Larry Moko

The Bishop Tonnos Titans were 31 seconds away from attaining one of their loftiest goals of the 2023 high school football season.

Playing the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championship game in Burlington Tuesday, the Titans led throughout before dropping a 16-15 decision to the Corpus Christi Longhorns.

The tying touchdown was scored on a 10-yard run up the middle by Xavier Niles with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The all-important go-ahead convert was then successfully added in the bothersome rain by Evan Astolpho.

With the result, Corpus Christi advances to OFSAA’s Golden Horseshoe Bowl Nov. 28 in Windsor.

The Titans vs. Longhorns matchup was a battle between the province’s No. 2 and 3-ranked high school teams. And nationally, Tonnos was considered No. 6 while Corpus Christi followed at 7.

“Last year we won by two points (22-20 over Corpus in the GHAC final),” Tonnos coach Anthony Tassone said. “This year they won by one. That shows how closely matched we are as football programs.”

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic champions went on to capture the 2022 Golden Horseshoe Bowl in Guelph.

“We’re upset because we’re not going to OFSAA again,” the Titans coach said. “That’s the new standard we’ve sort of set here for our football team.”

A tackle by Dylan Tharby of the Longhorns on a third-and-two situation caused the Titans to lose possession on downs at the Corpus Christi 25-yard line. And that set up the Halton Catholic champions for their game-winning drive.

Quarterback Nick Rasile proceeded to march the home team down the field with a combination of runs and passes. Key receptions were made by Nick Honchar, Logan Moore and Lee DeLuca while Moore and Rasile contributed by rushing for a combined 22 yards.

Titans defensive back Mark Yeudall appeared to end the threat with an interception near the goal line, but Tonnos was penalized for pass interference.

“That’s a great football team,” Tassone said of the Longhorns. “Any time you give them an opportunity with the ball they can put points up. Regardless of the elements today they were still able to put the ball in the air and maintain possession of the ball. All credit to them for being able to finish.”

The Titans started fast. It took them only nine plays on their opening series to drive 85 yards for a touchdown. It was scored on a four-yard carry by Elliot Blake.

Francesco Romano added an extra point and later put Tonnos ahead 10-0 with a 24-yard field goal.

Corpus sliced into the lead with a one-yard touchdown run by Preston Heroux which was converted by Astolpho.

A conceded safety touch then gave Tonnos a 12-7 edge at the half.

Second-half scoring by the Titans came by way of another safety touch and a single from a wide 30-yard field goal attempt.

The Longhorns also got two third-quarter points thanks to a conceded safety touch.

“To believe until the end is a beautiful thing,” Longhorns coach Dino Borchetta said. “I kept reminding the kids if we get one touchdown and kick the convert we could win the game. That’s what I kept dangling as a carrot.”

“Both teams have scored many touchdowns this year, so that was a doable feat.”

The Longhorns got a lift, too, when they blocked a fourth-quarter field goal.

“The boys really rallied,” Borchetta said. “This game could have gone either way … the same as last year.”

“It was a great game between two fantastic teams.”

Borchetta formerly played football for the Cardinal Newman Cardinals (now known as the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals). In 1992, under coach Phil Roberto, he was a middle linebacker and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said.

Borchetta’s Longhorns also rallied from a 15-7 halftime deficit last week to defeat Newman, 41-23, in a GHAC semifinal. Tonnos, in its semifinal, downed Burlington’s Nelson Lords, 52-18.

Both the Titans and Longhorns were undefeated entering the GHAC final.

Corpus Christi will now face the No. 1-ranked team in the province -- Huron Heights of Newmarket -- in the Golden Horseshoe Bowl.

Last week the Tonnos junior team won the Tier II championship, 28-14, over the St. Mary Crusaders.

BT football players playing GHAC championship gameBT football players playing GHAC championship gameBT football players playing GHAC championship gameBT football players playing GHAC championship gameBT football players playing GHAC championship gamePhotos by Eric Lajoie