Oromocto – The season of the St. Stephen Spartans football team has come to an unfortunate end with a 52-45 loss to the Oromocto High Blues.
Down 30-21 at halftime, the Spartans managed to take the first lead of the game 45-44 with less than three minutes remaining.
In those final minutes, coach Neil Grant said “we couldn’t stop them,” and the Blues went on to add the final touchdown and conversion, but Grant said he’s questioning some of the calls.
“I felt we were more than in it, I felt it was our game. There were calls I’m still questioning, calls I’m very unsure of.”
Several members of the Spartans suffered injuries during the game – Grant said two players are now going through concussion protocol; one may have an ACL injury.
Quarterback James Thibault, who suffered an ankle injury on an uncalled horsecollar tackle in the previous game with the Blues (regular season, Oct. 14), re-aggravated the injury when he was taken out at the ankles the second time he ran. Grant said he is unsure if the tackle was unintentional.
“There were a litany of things I could go through,” Grant said. “There was an incident after the game I’m letting the NBIAA deal with – not my players, but my players having to deal with things from other players.
“It’s not the way you want your season to end.”
Grant said at halftime, he spoke to the players to continue to play a strong game, and focus on the next play.
“As soon as those calls are made, I told them to forget it, that’s the last play; we have to focus on this play, we did that the whole game.
“I was proud of the way they battled back. They kept fighting, they kept scrapping, even though it seemed like there were many factors against us, we kept fighting through it.
Senior Josh McFarlane, who plays tight end, described the final minutes of the game as “nail biting” and said to see the Blues score a touchdown in the final minutes after taking the lead “was heartbreaking.”
“We’ve played together for quite a long time, and it was hard to put the gear up one last time.”
Despite the tough loss, McFarlane recalled two highlights from the match.
“One time Oromocto tried to run a play, and their runningback misplayed the ball. It was up in the air, and I just kind of went up and took it, and we got the ball back, and that was late in the game,” McFarlane said, and praised Kyle Stewart’s run in the final minutes to put the team up 45-44.
“That was probably one of the best runs I’ve ever seen.”
Though McFarlane admitted he felt some of the play from the opponents was “dirty” he said it wasn’t a struggle for the team to stay focused on the game.
“We’re just a team with more class. We have a great deal of respect for the game.”