Family can help get you through the tough times and they can also help the good times feel even better.
The Ross Royals have operated as a family this District 10 high school football season and that helped the Royals claim the league title in Friday night’s championship match at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium.
The Ross defence smothered the St. James Lions offence, limiting the Lions to a field goal and a late touchdown for a 34-9 win.
The togetherness of the Royals meant few players missed practices and they played for one another on the field. Nothing worse than letting your family down.
“We’ve been coming out every day,” said Ty Dokis, one of the defensive captains on the Royals. “I haven’t missed a practice all year and neither have any of my friends – my teammates, my brothers. We did it for the boys. We did it for our brothers. All year when we worked out, we worked out as a family.”
“Defence was huge,” Ross coach Tim Mathewson said.
The family attitude also helped the Royals bounce back from last season when they missed the playoffs following a winless season.
“Last year, honestly we weren’t clicking,” Dokis said. “It’s not like we weren’t a family last year and no diss to anybody last year, but this year was a big step up. We did everything as a family. We did everything as a team. We went to team breakfasts. We did everything and we did everything as a family.
“It’s been family all season, since we started with summer camp.”
The Royals and Lions were surprise championship-game combatants as both posted upset victories in last week’s semifinals. The third-place Royals ousted the second-place Centennial Spartans while the fourth-place Lions upset the first-place Guelph CVI Green Gaels.
“To be honest, going in we thought we were going to have a bit of a rebuild,” Mathewson said. “But even last year we could see the seeds. We were a young team last year and we’re even still a little bit young. A lot of our kids are in Grade 11. It’s pretty sweet. There’ve been doubters all years so it’s kind of nice to turn it around and show what we thought we could do at the beginning an finally see that come to fruition.”
Friday, the Ross defence didn’t glance at the scoreboard much as their main goal was to stick together and roll as a family.
“I don’t really pay attention to the score and neither do my boys,” Dokis said. “We just go play by play and that’s what we did all night.”
Ross running back Teo Jean-Gaston, who has already committed to joining the Guelph Gryphons for Ontario university football play, scored four touchdowns for Ross while Max Nixon had two field goals and four converts.
Nic Bertolo scored the touchdown for St. James while Cameron Ross kicked a field goal.
The Royals advance to the lone CWOSSA quarter-final game and they’ll play the Brant County champions at Brantford Thursday.
“I really don’t care what I know about them,” Dokis said. “I’m going out to play my game.”
The CWOSSA championship match is to be played at Alumni Stadium Nov. 19.