Undefeated Celtics bring home championship

Undefeated Celtics bring home Jr. football championship
Posted on 11/17/2023
BR football student holding up trophy

By Larry Moko

The Bishop Ryan Celtics completed an undefeated season Thursday, capturing the 2023 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic junior high school football championship.

Playing on their home field, the Celtics downed the second-place St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, 28-21.

It was BR’s first title in the sport since 2017.

Bishop Ryan quarterback Aaron John, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns, also engineered the offence last season when the Celtics lost a closely-contested final against the St. Thomas More Knights. On that occasion, time ran out when BR was 10 yards away from possibly scoring a go-ahead touchdown.

“As soon as we lost that game we started working for this one,” John said. “I’m thankful for how we played and that we came out with the ‘W’

“The coaches put in a lot of hours.”

John also tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass that Andrew Centurami caught at the back of the end zone as BR grabbed a 21-7 third-quarter lead.

“That was a beautiful throw,” Celtics coach Brian Grajales said. “Our quarterback is spectacular. What separates us from a lot of other teams in the league is our ability to run and pass. I don’t think anybody else has done that in (four-down) junior football.

“I want to give kudos to our offensive co-ordinator, Alex Nardini. This play book was his baby that he’s been working on for at least five years.

“We just happened to have the personnel to fit his playbook this year.”

Newman got a pair of touchdowns along the ground by Mario Corsini and one by tailback Marko Moravac. All were converted by Allesandro Botta.

“If you ask any team this season, ‘what do you need to do to beat Newman?’, they would say, ‘stop Marko Moravac,” the Celtics coach said. “He’s arguably the best running back in the city. “Stopping him is a tough task … we didn’t even do that today.”

BR’s first touchdown was scored by Lucas Underhill. Adriano Infurnari converted all four majors.

During the regular season, Bishop Ryan got past Newman in another close one – 14-7.

“It’s an evenly-matched contest between these two teams,” Cardinals coach Serge Fuca said. “They got up and we couldn’t get back. On this day, they were a little bit better than we were.

Both teams have very dynamic athletes.”

Jesse Vaccarella was the leading rusher for the Celtics.

“Football is really healthy in our city,” Grajales said. “That was a fantastic product on the field.”

In recent junior semifinal playoffs, Bishop Ryan downed More, 31-13, and Newman edged the Cathedral Gaels, 20-14.

A junior Tier II semifinal saw the St. Mary Crusaders defeat the St. Jean de Brébeuf Braves, 29-14. That outcome advances St. Mary to the divisional championship game Monday at Bishop Tonnos against the Titans.

BR and Newman football gameBR and Newman football gameBR and Newman football gameBR football players celebrate football winBR football player holds up trophyBR football teamPhotos by Richard Andoga