STETHS, Edwin Allen cross swords for Ben Francis KO
Edwin Allen's Richard Henry (right) gets away from a Cornwall College player in their ISSA Ben Francis KO quarter-final game at Drax Hall. Edwin Allen won the game 2-1 to advance to the semi-finals. (Photos: Paul Reid)

SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) will be seeking a record-equalling seventh title, while Edwin Allen High will hope to become the 15th school to win the ISSA Ben Francis Knockout when the two meet in the final at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz today, starting at 12:30 pm.

Both schools are coming off tough semi-final games on Tuesday, with STETHS edging Frome Technical 1-0, and Edwin Allen shaking off the rust from earlier in the competition to run past Manchester High 4-0 in the other game.

Cornwall College have won the most Ben Francis titles with seven — 1983, 1984, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003 — while Glenmuir High have won five, Rusea's High four and Clarendon College three.

STETHS have not won a senior football title since 2015 when they won the daCosta Cup/Ben Francis double. Head Coach Omar “Rambo” Wedderburn says the school has waited long enough and its time to bring the drought to an end.

“We will try to have fun and enjoy the moment,” Wedderburn told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. He insisted that in a final “no team has any edge; it comes down to heart and will and a certain mindset”.

Tafari Burton, who played schoolboy football at Edwin Allen before returning to take them to their first major final, says while they are basking in the success “we have still not achieved what we set out for yet”, which is to win the title.

Burton admits, however, that “it feels good to be here” and said it took the entire school community to get to this stage.

After a shaky first-round 2-1 win over Cornwall College, Edwin Allen exploded for four goals against Manchester High on Tuesday, and said they hoped to build on their success.

“Against Cornwall College we were a bit rusty as we were just coming back from the Christmas break and did not even get a single practice game, which slowed us down. “We had to be patient, but afterwards we got a few games and that allowed us to get back our rhythm,” said Burton.

He said the early goal in the semi-final helped confidence as well, adding “the mindset for the final must be to play better as STETHS will be a big challenge”.

Richard Henry got two opportunistic goals against Manchester High and will be on the hunt for more today as he teams up with Jaheim Harris and Ackeem Mullings.

Michael Jerman has scored for STETHS in both Ben Francis KO games played and he will be on the hunt again today along with Negus Daley and Rohane Brown.

— Paul Reid

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