St Joe’s claims state footballing honours

By Andrew Johnston

FOR many, it was the biggest moment of their junior footballing lives.

The opportunity to bring a state championship back to their beloved school.

And on the biggest stage they have ever been, the year eight students of St Joseph's College delivered in spades.

Clashing with Rowville Secondary College at Craigieburn's Highgate Reserve on Wednesday afternoon, St Joe's claimed the state year eight boys/mixed premiership, winning by 13 points.

Coach Justin Cantwell said he could not have been prouder of his team.

"They were incredible throughout the entire season," he said.

"They played fantastic football through the whole event, especially on grand final day, and it's a fantastic reward for all of them to be able to go back to school having claimed this victory."

It's been a long road to qualify for the event, with two matches at Nathalia earning them the opportunity to compete against the best sides in the Loddon Valley.

After a further four clashes at Swan Hill, the team earned the opportunity to play against the best sides in the state in Ballarat.

After a tight contest against Maribyrnong in their quarter-final where they won by four points, St Joe's dominated Sacred Heart Kyneton to the tune of 24 points to earn a spot in the final.

"It was never an easy journey for them, but they gave it their absolute best and were able to get through to the grand final," Cantwell said.

But their grand final against Rowville was never an easy contest, needing to come from behind at three-quarter-time to get the win.

With Harley Reid, Noah Langbourne, Angus Toll and Oliver Poole all producing strong games, the team rallied to get over the line and claim the victory.

"They showed incredible fight," Cantwell said.

"We had some of our players play really good games, but the key was that everybody made a really solid contribution. When you have a full side of contributors, it makes a huge difference.

"It was special for the team to get to play in a win together, but it was also really special for their families. We had a lot of people make the trip down to Melbourne to watch the game, and seeing the excitement and the celebration from everybody who made the journey down, it was really special."

The celebrations continued well into the afternoon as the team made the trip back to Echuca, and was still going on yesterday as guernseys and medals took pride of place over school uniforms.

A success of one team, shared by an entire school, and the whole Echuca footballing community.