Facing a championship-deciding shot, Haliburton Highlands Secondary School boys curling skip Jacob Dobson said he treated it like any other.
“We just said, here we go. Just another shot, another day,” Dobson said. “I knew exactly as soon as their rock stopped moving what I had to do.”
It was close – a matter of inches. Dobson said he could not see the result immediately. But Haliburton lead Owen Nicholls could, and he lifted his arms into the air and shouted the result: “We won!”
The team of Dobson, Nicholls, vice Liam Little and second Corin Gervais claimed the Ontario School Curling Provincial Championships in Chatham Feb. 13-15, winning the Schoolboys Trophy.
It was a dramatic finish to the tournament, which would see Haliburton go 2-1 in a round robin and best the favoured hometown Ursuline team 6-5 in the semifinals.
They surged ahead 5-0 against the Carlton Place Bears in the final, but the Bears battled back to make it 5-5 and send it to an extra end. The Bears were ready to score two in the final end, before Dobson made a strong draw to the button to come out ahead. But after Carlton matched his shot with one of their own, Dobson had to make another difficult draw to the button through multiple guard stones to win.
But after two previous years of provincial competition and years of practice, Dobson said he was ready for the moment, and succeeded. Dobson and Little placed fourth in the same competition in 2018, while Gervais joined them in placing fifth at the OFSAA provincial competition in 2019.
“It was something we worked three years for with this team,” Dobson said. “I was quite happy we were able to get that last shot out.”
It’s the first high school provincial title for Haliburton’s curlers since 2014, when a girls’ team took the title. The only other title came in 2009 with a boys’ team.
High school coach Darrell Dobson, Jacob’s father, said it is a mark of success for the Haliburton Curling Club’s youth program. He credited fellow coaches Hugh Nichol and Russ Duhaime for their efforts, which have helped result in a new championship banner being hung up at the club.
“The whole county can be proud,” the elder Dobson said.
Jacob Dobson said he is inspired by the curling greats – the likes of Mike Harris, Brad Jacobs, Brad Gushue, who sent a congratulatory message to Dobson, who attended Gushue’s curling camp.
One day, he hopes to join their ranks and bring home a Brier title and an Olympic medal.
“But at this point, just taking those steps, winning the games now,” he said.
The team was back in competition quickly and went on to win Kawarthas Feb. 18-19 and have now qualified for the regional COSSA competition March 7.
Jacob Dobson said the team worked well together with their combined experience and expects a strong showing.
“We just hope we’re going to have the same results as before,” Dobson said. “Take it game-by-game.”