Eagles soar to second banner in three years
Auburn Drive receiver Ayres Perry scores three touchdowns in 31-6 win over Bay View
GLENN MACDONALD THE CHRONICLE HERALD email@example.com @Ch_gmacherald
Ayres Perry wanted redemption.
The Auburn Drive senior receiver had contracted COVID just days before the Eagles’ Week 3 meeting with Bay View. The Sharks smothered the Eagles 16-0, propelling them to first place in the regular season and a No. 1 seeding in the Nova Scotia High School Football League playoffs.
Perry was champing at the bit prior to the teams’ showdown in the championship final Sunday afternoon and the all-star receiver delivered, scoring three touchdowns in the Eagles’ 31-6 rout at Huskies Stadium.
“I went into that game in the middle of battling COVID,” recalled Perry, the championship final MVP. “I was barely playing that game. I had a really rough game, probably the worst game in my whole life. So, I just erased that from my memories. We also didn’t have our starting running back or a starting linebacker in the game. We figured it’s a whole different game and put it behind us. We knew we could beat these guys and we did it.”
A first-quarter rouge by Auburn Drive accounted for all the scoring through most of the first half. That was until Eagles quarterback Jake Wamboldt dropped back and found a sprinting Perry bolting down the middle of the field for a 70-yard touchdown reception with 2:04 left in the second quarter. Auburn Drive held a 7-0 lead at halftime.
Wamboldt and Perry connected again on a screen pass late in the third quarter which the receiver rumbled 20 yards for the major and a 14-0 Eagles advantage.
On the Eagles’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Wamboldt went back to the well with Perry and found his favourite receiver up the middle and Perry did the rest, racing to the end zone on an 82-yard TD reception with eight minutes remaining to put the Eagles ahead by three scores.
“I knew my speed would take me there and I trusted my boy Jake to give me the ball so I just took off,” said Perry, who was the Nova Scotia high school league’s special teams MVP this season.
“After we scored the first one, coach came up to us at halftime and said we’re running it again. Later in the half, I looked at Jake like I was saying, ‘you know where I'm going to be.’ And he’s like I got you. He put the ball in the same spot, and it was the same result.
“Jake and I have great chemistry. I’ve played N.S. football with him since U16 and he was one of the people who welcomed me warmly to Auburn (after transferring from Dartmouth High following his Grade 10 year). He’s been there the whole time for me. The last two years have been a ride. I love that guy.
“But I gotta thank my coach for that play. It’s a great one.”
Grade 12 offensive lineman Noah Wells had a front row seat as the dominant duo put on a show.
“They are just phenomenal athletes,” said the six-foot-six, 305-pound Wells, a league all-star.
“Jake just stepped back and fed it in the air right into the arms of Ayres, not once but twice. They’re both dogs out there every single game. And I got to watch them front and centre. It’s an honour to block for them.”
While the offence was clicking, the Eagles’ defence neutralized Grade 12 quarterback Owen Aucoin. Auburn Drive sacked the Division 1 league MVP three times, including two by Jayden Maclean. His second sack came with 2:20 left in the fourth, a devastating hit on an unexpected Aucoin which knocked him out of the game with a suspected shoulder injury.
The Sharks’ only score came on a late quarterback sneak by backup Peyton Flint with 15 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles’ Elliott Dawood returned it for a major with eight seconds left.
“Our defence is the best in the league, no question about it,” Wells said. “We also have the best offence and that’s why we should have been the No. 1 team coming in here today.”
During his high school career, Wells won as a Grade 10 rookie – a 30-20 victory over Bay View in the 2021 final – and was involved in the Citadel Phoenix’s 39-0 thrashing of the Eagles in last year’s championship.
He’s thrilled to close the curtain in the winner’s circle.
“Last year, 39-0, that just didn’t sit right with all of us,” Wells said. “We needed to win today. But it wasn’t going to be easy. The Bay View Sharks whooped us earlier in the year. They punched us square in the mouth. We had to get it back and give it back to them.
“I’m so proud of this team. Guys were locked in.”