Bulldogs ready for home opener after early struggles on the road

Cowichan teams improve in second week of spring season

Both Cowichan Bulldogs minor football teams continue to look for their first wins of the spring season following a pair of tough losses to the Westshore Warriors last Sunday.

Thanks to trampoline-related injuries and the flu, the peewee Bulldogs were outnumbered 2-1 for the second straight game. Even with only 12 players dressed, the Bulldogs refused to give up.

“The team rallied together and played some good old-fashioned hard-nosed football,” coach Tim Maertz said.

Westshore scored on their first possession. Davin Reithaug ran the ball 35 yards on the ensuing kickoff to give the Bulldogs solid field position, but the Warriors got the ball back on a turnover. Cowichan managed to get the ball back on downs, but ended up turning it over themselves in similar fashion.

The Bulldogs recovered a fumble to get the ball back, and took advantage of it. A 15-yard pass to Cayden Summers was followed by a 20-yard thrown by Nico Harris to Reithaug, who ran another 15 yards to get Cowichan in the red zone. A QB keep on the next play gave the Bulldogs their first touchdown of the season.

The Bulldogs started strong as they received the kickoff to open the second half, but Westshore put an end to that drive with a pick-six. Cowichan was hit by the injury bug after that, losing three more players for the rest of the game.

“Nothing serious, but it made for coaches having to shuffle players around to positions they aren’t familiar with,” Maertz said.

After the Cowichan defence stopped Westshore’s last possession of the game, the Bulldogs had the ball to finish the game, but came up short despite a couple of first downs.

Maertz wasn’t disappointed.

“I said it last week, but I’ll say it again,” he said. “I am so proud of this team, and of how hard they played. They kept playing until the very last whistle. The final score is not what we hoped for, but in my head they won this game.”

The junior bantam Bulldogs ran into arguably the most talented team in their league, and ended up on the wrong side of a 55-24 final score.

“The Bulldogs had a difficult day, but showed resilience and potential in the loss,” coach PJ Shea said. “Having recently installed both a new offence and defence, we showed signs of the success that is sure to come.”

Jordan Russell scored two touchdowns and Finn Shea had one as both players were impressive with and without the ball, and a breakthrough outing from lineman Trevor Eccleston helped take some sting out of the loss.

Both Bulldogs teams will play their home openers against the Victoria Spartans at McAdam Park this Saturday.