Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Redemption Against a Bitter Rival

Photo courtesy of James Patterson

I hate them.

No, no, no, hate isn't the right word. I despise them. I absolutely, positively, without question, despise St. Thomas Aquinas.

Don't get me wrong, I have friends that go there. People I have grown up with, hung out with, and played sports with, have attended or are currently attending STA. But there is just something about the school itself that wipes the grin off my face.

Wanna know why? No? Well, I'll tell you anyway: in the past two years, our football team has been unable to beat their football team. Sharing Oxford St. with them, the rivalry between our schools is somewhat dull. Technically, for it to be a rivalry, both teams have to win -- sometimes the Leafs win, sometimes the Habs win -- and since we have failed at meeting our end of the bargain, terms like "Choke-ridge" have been thrown our way countless times.

In my grade 11 season, we came close to upsetting the Flames. Quick and timely touchdowns gave our squad an early lead on the city favourites. But their experience and skill came back to haunt us, and we were left licking our wounds, wondering what the next game held.

Last year, STA embarassed in the regular season, beating us by 50 points; then, in the playoffs, they narrowly defeated us to advance to the City Championship. For the next week, I felt sick. Not only did they end our season, but left a bitter taste in our mouths that we were left to scrub over the next nine months. We asked ourselves "What if" and "If we did this instead of..." for too long, dwelling that for the Oakridge 2011 graduating class (this year's victory lappers), it was another semi-final disappointment.

Not anymore. For too long, people have associated Oakridge as a school that thrives in volleyball, but lacks results on the gridiron. This year, we decided to throw all that out the window. We decided that from now on, whenever the Oaks come on the schedule, teams will be sweating up a storm. The amount of talent and character on this team is incredible; almost half our squad is made of grade 13's -- men who graduated, but decided to finish what they started -- chalk full of leadership and experience. This is a team that has looked at the past and said "Screw it, this is our time".

So on this Friday, when we face STA for what will be the fourth time in my career, I'll remind myself this: STA ended our season last year.

Now it's our turn to return the favour.

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