By Charlie Taaffe
On Friday, October 18th, I was lucky enough to witness my last FNL as a student at Richview Collegiate. I walked into Centennial Stadium and looked at the crowd full of students, past and present. I realised that even if these were two regular Canadian High school football teams, this meant a lot to the local community and Etobicoke as a whole.
When I was getting my ticket punched in, I overheard a conversation between a couple of parents of Richview and Etobicoke players. In this conversation, the parents were talking about how Richview had one hell of a Junior team with some great young athletes. Being a Grade 12 who was usually in class or working when the Junior’s played, I had limited knowledge over the talent level of these young Saints. I knew they had a 2-1 record going into this game,
but I definitely did not expect the thrashing they were going to give Etobicoke.
The Junior game started with the same mentality those parents were discussing while walking into the Stadium, Richview dominance. The first throw of the game was picked off by the Richview defense, which was then easily rushed in for a touchdown by Tommy Harrison—who had a great night on both sides of the football field. The score was 7-0 with the kicker, Nick Allison, easily tapping in the extra point. The Richview defense was quick to establish itself this game when on the very next drive, Joshua Horniak got Richview’s second pick of the night. Richview’s offense couldn’t get anything together on that drive and punted it back to Etobicoke on their second possession. Due to Richview’s persistence to run the ball, the first quarter flew by quickly with the score remaining 7-0.
The second quarter began with Etobicoke going two and out and punting the ball. Richview’s special teams were able to block the punt and with great field position easily scored another touchdown, making the score 14-0. Etobicoke’s offence continued to struggle and conceded a safety and the score was 16-0,
Richview’s defence were out for blood.
On Richview’s next drive Mike Lovegrove threw a bomb downfield, which was caught by Christian Jones-Donald, giving the Saints great field position and easily rushed it in, making the score 23-0. Etobicoke finally got some plays together. Their quarterback had difficulty throwing the ball, but he could sure run. However, this still wasn’t enough for the Rams to even get in field goal position. There was very little time left in the second quarter and Harrison was able to get 40 yards on a rushing play, but then time expired. Richview had a commanding lead over Etobicoke and they continued this into the second half.
The third started off with a Lovegrove interception. Luckily Lovegrove didn’t have to do too much in this game to get in good field position as Etobicoke’s defence threw another interception. This might have been the best defensive effort I’ve ever seen by Richview since they won OFSAA back in 2016. It was back to the Harrison show as he rushed it in for another touchdown, making the score 30-0. Richview kicked off once again and the Rams’ struggling offence was finally able to get a successful drive going and rushed it in for a touchdown, but Richview’s special teams swung into action again by blocking their field goal effort. The score was now only 30-6 Richview. Bringing an end to the third quarter.
Richview Offence would start at the start of the fourth. Remy Alexandrov would go for a long run with the ball, but it resulted in a fumble; which Etobicoke recovered. Etobicoke once again threw another interception, which would lead to another touchdown making the score 37-6. Richview kicked off and Etobicoke had another successful drive running the ball down the field, but their coach decided it was a good idea to throw the ball in the end zone with a quarterback who was very interception prone. Obviously, Richview’s defence once again intercepted it. Richview ran the ball again and then punted. Etobicoke’s offence had one more shot to make something happen, and they scored their second touchdown of the game making the score 37-12 missing a two point conversion. Etobicoke had to attempt an onside kick, Richview recovered, game over, the Juniors win!
It was getting dark and cold, but the fans stayed for the senior game. This was the game that truly meant the most to the alumni and the students of Richview and Etobicoke. For many this would be their last football game watched by any meaningful crowd, so they had to make this one count. If your team loses, it’s going to be a permanent tarnish on your season and your high school career. This is what we came here to see. I was also a lot more excited for this game because I have a number of friends on the team, and a couple of kids playing for the seniors could make some buzz on the Canadian University level. Two players in particular that I was excited to see play were Keanu Brown and Avontae Mckoy Jr. These two fifth year players are men amongst boys and proved it with their countless accolades, championships and this game in particular. The magic of Friday Night Lights had just begun.
The first quarter started off slow with Etobicoke going two and out and punting, then Richview punting, then Etobicoke punting again. Richview finally got their offence together for the fourth drive in the game. A huge reception from Tyler Fox gave the Saints great field position to score an easy rushing touchdown by Brown. The score became 7-0 Richview. Etobicoke came right back into the game and scored on the next drive making it 7-7. At the end of the first quarter, the fans in attendance already knew this game was going to be a lot more defensive and competitive than the previous one.
The second quarter started with Etobicoke running it in for another touchdown making it 14-7. This would be Etobicoke’s only lead at any point in the two games. Richview’s offence turned it over once they regained possession. Then, Etobicoke’s offence failed to get anywhere and punted it back. The exact events repeated itself for another time, and the half would end still at 14-7. Etobicoke decided to kickoff with an onside kick and Richview recovered it giving them much better field position than if they were to just regularly kick off. This coaching blunder was made even worse when Mckoy Jr scored his first touchdown of the game making it all tied up at 14-14. When Etobicoke regained possession, they quickly gave it right back to the Richview defence when Sammy Crawford picked up the interception. After a slow start from the Saints, it seemed as if the offence and defence had regained focus and were in it to win it. Then, Richview went two and out and turned over the ball. Etobicoke now had their destiny in their hands and had a chance to take the lead but they also went two and out giving the ball back to Richview offence. The Saints took full opportunity of that chance with Brown scoring his second touchdown of the game making it 21-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The quarter started with Etobicoke giving away the ball again to the deadly rushing offence of Richview, who scored another touchdown with Brown. Racking up his 3rd touchdown of the game making it 29-14 with Richview, scoring an extra point instead of attempting a field goal. Etobicoke, with one last shot, quickly scored another touchdown making it 29-20, with Etobicoke missing their extra point opportunity. Due to the malfunctioning clocks, the game ended on the 4 minute mark in the 4th quarter. This meant Richview had won both the Junior and Senior Friday Night Lights games. As the crowd shuffled out of the stadium, you could see the accomplishment and pride on the players’, coaches’, and alumnis’ faces as their team won. Richview, the pride of Etobicoke, once again lifted the Friday Night Lights Title as they won the historic rivalry.
Etobicoke is Scarlet and Gold.