THERE are about 1400 teams which contest Victorian school football championships and St Joseph’s Primary School has won three times in eight years.
The Warrnambool school reinforced its status as a School Sport Victoria football power with victory in a dramatic 2013 grand final.
St Joseph’s defeated Mornington-based St Macartan’s 6.9 (45) to 5.2 (32) at Kensington Park on Monday.
The triumph adds to the titles won in 2006 and 2008. All three have come under coach and physical education co-ordinator Mark Gercovich.
Gercovich said the Joeys led by four goals at half-time but could have easily lost the match in the third quarter.
They conceded two goals and lost co-captain Paddy O’Brien to concussion, before letting in another goal shortly before three-quarter-time.
But the young prospects dug deep and held on to record a memorable triumph.
Liam Herbert, the cousin of AFL draft prospect Louis Herbert, kicked two goals.
“The ground was really hard surprisingly and Paddy, he went to lay a tackle and ended up banging his head on the surface,” Gercovich said.
“As that happened, the ball spilled out and they kicked a goal.
‘‘They had just kicked two goals and our captain was off the ground.
“They could’ve gone and run over us but we held on.
‘‘It was a fantastic effort.”
Gercovich said former St Joseph’s pupil Jayden Brennan, who captained the 2008 team, wrote a letter to the boys wishing them luck in the final.
Gercovich read the letter out pre-game in a bid to motivate them.
They responded with one of the performances of their lives.
“It was a great team effort,” he said.
‘‘You can look at each one and remember something good they did.’’
Paddy said he spent four hours in the Royal Children’s Hospital and had yesterday off school to recover.
He recalled tackling an opponent who was running into goal when he crashed to the turf. ‘‘Everything was black and fuzzy,” he said, adding that he had faith in his teammates.
“I always thought they were going to win.
‘‘We were playing as a team.”
Co-captain Cooper Atchison also praised the efforts of the team.
“As soon as Paddy went down none of us dropped our heads,” Cooper said yesterday.
‘‘We went in even harder.