This week marks a new era for Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School Athletics. On Friday afternoon, the Varsity Boys Soccer team will host the first home playoff game in school history when they take on Christchurch at 4 pm. The following day at 1 pm, Varsity Football travels to rival Bishop Ireton to take on the Cardinals in a game with humongous ramifications. Needless to say, the John Paul community will be paying close attention to the performances of their student-athletes in these important games.
Soccer Seeks Historic Win
The soccer team has made a somewhat surprising run up the state rankings this year, finishing at number 8 with an outstanding 10-4-4 record. They have defeated or tied several ranked teams, allowing them to emerge as a powerhouse in the VISAA.
Backed by strong leadership from their senior captains Patrick Frick, Patrick Gelbach, and John Yates, the team has performed beyond many people’s expectations. Nyakeh Braima and Pernell Adgei along with Josh Cox provided threatening offensive strikes for the team all season, while strong defense from Ryan Goerl, Matt Samuels, and Kevin Villagomez allowed the team to perform to the best of their ability.
“It’s awesome that we’re able to see the results of hard work, and that of the coaches, in getting John Paul’s first ever home playoff game,” said captain Patrick Gelbach, “I’m excited for Friday and onward because when we play well there isn’t anyone who can beat us.”
Notoriety for the team has grown as the number of wins has grown, and the school has embraced the team accordingly. The team is hoping that there will be a good turnout for the game on Friday, and it doesn’t sound like they will be disappointed. Interest in the game is buzzing throughout the school, and the students can’t wait to be apart of the playoff atmosphere themselves.
“Being a part of such a successful team this year has been a great start to Senior year,” said fellow senior Andre Michelle in review of the season thus far, “Every afternoon I look forward to practice, not only because we consistently improve, but also because we have a great team dynamic. No matter the results, I am very proud to be a part of this team.”
Football Will Leave it All on the Field
Our football team, however, traveled a different road to success. After starting the season 0-2,the players did not accept defeat. But rather, they fought hard, rushed hard, converted at opportune times, and have subsequently produced an incredible 7 game win streak that boosted their state rank to number 5. Led by senior Zak Peroots (who recently rushed for his 4000th career yard), little brother Brandon Peroots, junior DJ Stefonsky, and senior Austin Otter, the team heads into Saturday prepared for an intense matchup.
“The season didn’t start out the way we planned but we all kept our faith in each other and the coaching staff to come together. I can’t say enough about our guys and how we react to adversity,” said Otter of the season to this point.
He then shared his thoughts on this Saturday’s mammoth of a game, “We would like to say we are taking this game just like every other game…but it’s Ireton. This is a huge game in our history and I’m glad I can be apart of it. #BEATIRETON”
The format of the VISAA Division I football playoffs only allows 4 teams to qualify. This means that the Wolves MUST beat Ireton on Saturday and have at least one of the teams ahead of them lose. It’s not an impossible task by any means, and as the team has proved all season, they’re capable of doing things many thought the team could not.
“At the beginning of the year, I truly felt this was ‘THE’ year. Although we started off slow, we have rallied around each other and pulled off 7 straight wins. The offense is clicking and our defense, especially our secondary, are on the same page. However, it all depends on our last game, Bishop Ireton. We are coming ready!” said DJ Stefonsky, speaking like Otter about the team’s performance and the task confronting them.
So, you better make it a priority to attend at least one, if not both, of these historic games.
Good luck Wolves!
Also, admission to the men’s soccer game on Friday is $5 per person or $20 for a family of 4 or more. Admission to the Bishop Ireton football game is $5 per individual.
If for some terrible reason you are unable to attend the Saturday football game at 1 pm, those interested in following the game can get up to the minute information by checking the Ireton twitter account: @GRT2BACardinal. John Paul’s Athletic Twitter account, @JPWolfpack, will also be providing updates.
You can also watch a live stream of the football game at www.ffmsports.com/ireton