Central Kings nipped 32-26 by Dr. J.H. Gillis in OT thriller
Ben Best (with ball) of the Central Kings Gators, shown in action against the Horton Griffins, was named Rookie of the Year for the Scotia Division of NSSAF football. Best was also one of 16 players from Kings County schools named as division all-stars.
By John DeCoste
Horton, Avon View and Central Kings all had their high school football seasons end on the Nov. 9-11 weekend.
The Gators in particular didn’t go down without a fight. Central Kings (2-6 in the regular season) travelled to Antigonish Monday for a game against the Dr. J.H. Gillis Royals. In a well-played and closely contested game, the Royals claimed a 32-26 decision in overtime.
“It was easily the best game we played all year, and a really positive way to end the season, especially for the players who are back next year,” Gators’ head coach Larry Priestnall said.
Central Kings spotted Dr. Gillis an early 14-0 lead, but fought back to tie and with a minute and a half left in the fourth quarter, led 26-20.
The Royals marched the ball down the field, only to fumble in the end zone.
“I really thought we had recovered it,” Priestnall said. “But the officials gave it to them.”
Dr. Gillis ended up with a touchdown that tied the score. With a chance to win the game outright, Dr. Gillis then missed the convert, and the contest went to overtime.
In the extra session, Central Kings attempted a field goal, but it was blocked. Dr. Gillis recovered and ran the ball the length of the field for the winning points.
Ben Best scored a rushing touchdown for CK and Cody Holland caught a pair of scoring passes, one from Best and one from quarterback Jacob Shepherd, who also kicked a field goal. The Gators forced a safety to round out their scoring.
“The guys played fantastic, on both sides of the ball. It was the best the offense and defense played together all season, and a great thing to build on for next year.”
Horton, meanwhile, dropped a 23-7 decision to J.L. Ilsley in their playoff game Nov. 9 at Burnside – their second loss to the Judges in as many weeks.
“I thought we could beat them. I still think we can beat them,” Griffins’ head coach Alec Hyndman said. “Just not on that day and in that place.”
Horton opened the scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Cam Davidson, capping an 85-yard drive, but that would be it for Horton’s scoring.
“We couldn’t put anything together after that,“ Hyndman said, adding, “our defense didn’t play badly,” but Ilsley “had good field position” – on one occasion, “we missed a field goal and they returned it to our 30.”
After a 5-3 regular season, Hyndman was pleased as a whole.
“That’s four winning seasons in a row, and it was a good year for the graduating players,” he said.
Hyndman is optimistic of more success next season. Despite losing a number of starters, the Griffins will return a decent core, and can look forward to the addition of a number of players from an outstanding Bantam Bulldogs team.
In what proved to be their season finale, Avon View dropped a 21-13 decision to Cole Harbour on Nov. 10. Scoring and statistics were unavailable.
The NSSAF football all-stars and major award winners were also announced last week. A.J. Whitehead of Avon View was named Scotia Division MVP as well as Defensive MVP.
Ben Best of Central Kings was the Scotia Division Rookie of the Year, and Horton’s Diego De Conta De Oliviera, an exchange student from Brazil, was the Outstanding Punter/Kicker.
First team Scotia Division all-stars included Whitehead (at both fullback and linebacker), Horton’s Brandon Whitman (at both receiver and defensive back), Horton receiver Mike Boylen, CK offensive lineman Justin Murphy and Horton defensive lineman Jacob Melanson.
Second-team all-stars included Best, Davidson, Horton quarterback Kyle McMullin, NKEC receiver Will Keddy, CK offensive lineman Connor Hewitt and Horton O-lineman Brock O’Brien.
Named second-team all-stars on defense were Avon View D-lineman Lucas Holleman and defensive back Kyle Fraser; NKEC D-lineman Jacob Cogswell, Horton defensive back Nathan Walsh and CL linebacker Sam Jennings-Lindsay.