By John DeCoste
The championship train stopped one stop short of its final destination for the Horton Griffins football team.
The Griffins dropped a 29-17 decision to the Citadel Phoenix in the NSSAF provincial final Sunday in Halifax to finish the season with a 9-1-1 record, easily the best season in their five-year history.
“It’s always disappointing when you lose, but Citadel is a very good team that does pretty much everything well,” said head coach Alec Hyndman.
Horton opened the scoring on a Loic Adam field goal to cap the Griffins’ opening drive, but Citadel, which captured its fourth straight provincial banner, responded with a pair of quick touchdowns for a 14-3 lead.
Citadel capitalized on a blocked punt when Adre Fraser, co-league MVP with Horton’s Adam Melanson, hauled in a 12-yard scoring pass.
The Phoenix increased their lead to 22-3 before Melanson scored Horton’s first touchdown on a 15-yard run in the third quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 50-yard punt return by Cameron Davidson.
Citadel made it 29-10 on a 35-yard interception return by defensive back Liam Connell. Noel Morgan’s 75-yard touchdown reception in the final minute rounded out the scoring.
Hyndman acknowledged Citadel “did a good job of adjusting to our offense,” and the Griffins, for their part, didn’t make good enough use of their chances on offense, particularly in the first half.
“We did outscore them 14-13 in the second half, and we were able to move the ball against them,” Hyndman said. But “big plays were what beat us,” just as he had hoped would not happen.
“We had a great season, the best a Valley football team has ever had. Four years ago, we finished last. Today, we’re provincial silver medalists.” - Horton head coach Alec Hyndman
Despite the immediate disappointment, Hyndman acknowledged, “we had a great season, the best a Valley football team has ever had. Four years ago, we finished last. Today, we’re provincial silver medalists.”
With the Griffins losing 21 of 36 players on this year’s roster, 2012 “looks like it might be a rebuilding year.”
At the same time, Hyndman said, “we have some good players returning and some good players coming up. We’ll have to wait and see.”