With one more year of experience under their belts, the Jean Vanier Storm were unstoppable. The senior girls flag football team ran wild to pick up the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association double-A title over the Nottawasaga Pines Timberwolves.
In a rematch of the 2017 championship, it was the Storm that came out on top this time: 32-14.
“I am so happy,” said Storm quarterback Isabel McCann. “We were here last year with the same team and (this time), we beat them so good.”
Last year’s finals were played under rainy and windy conditions, slowing down both sides. But with clear skies above J.C. Massie Field at Barrie, Jean Vanier was free to turn on the jets.
“There’s a lot of speed on this team,” said the Storm’s Jordan Million. “A lot of girls have speed and we try to utilize it as best we can. We like to keep a lot of plays on the ground because we can use it. It isn’t as predictable.”
After Nottawasaga Pines opened the scoring on the first drive, Jean Vanier struck back with a 99-yard touchdown run from Mikayla Gallo for a 7-6 lead.
“Going in, I felt pretty good, but then they got that early touchdown and it lowered our confidence a little bit,” Million said. “But once we got that one back, I knew we had it.”
The Storm were far from done. Shortly afterward, Million picked up a punt at her own 26-yard line, found a hole and burst through for a touchdown.
“Usually, I like to plan it out before I go,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I see an opening and I take it. I try to run as best I can, not block any flags and just go.”
Before the half was out, Gallo ran in another long-distance score, slipping by a pair of Nottawasaga Pines defenders and breaking into the clear, at which point her quarterback began chasing and cheering her on.
“I see Mikayla (Gallo) and once she gets past those first few players, I know she’s going to make it,” McCann said. “No one’s going to stop her. I want to scream my lungs out, because I know she’s going to get it and I’m so excited for her.”
The trio of Grade 10 students – McCann, Gallo and Million – were a focal point of the offence all season for Jean Vanier. They would be joined on the scoreboard by an even younger player in freshman Averey Pritchard, who took an end around from McCann and scampered down the left side to the end zone.
“They never stop running,” said McCann.
Million capped off the scoring later in the second half, as the Storm reversed the result of last season’s championship game. A half-dozen of the Storm’s graduating players took the field for the final series, a nod to their hard work over the years.
The sophomores were more than happy to leave those last moments there for their senior teammates.
“I’m really proud, because we have a lot of Grade 12s that have been on the team since Grade 9 and, this way, they get to go off with a victory,” Million said. “I love that we won it for them, because our grades are really close. We play together on this team and other teams, and it’s just a great feeling to get it for them.”
Photo: The Jean Vanier Storm win the GBSSA championship over the Nottawasaga Pines Timberwolves. Stephen Sweet photo