Battling fierce temperatures as well as their on-field opponents, the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs took all the adversity in stride to secure the Dogwood Cup championship with a 32-6 win over the Comox Raiders at Ladysmith’s Forrest Field last Saturday, capping off a huge turnaround for the team.
“At the mid-point of the season we were not where we should have been as a team,” Cowichan head coach PJ Shea said. “We challenged the players to reload and re-establish themselves. They took up that challenge. The commitment that the players made to the work required, and the responsibility that they felt towards their teammates, is what won them this cup.”
With 35 C temperatures and not a breeze to be found, the teams had braced for a physically demanding game, with the majority of players on both squads playing both offence and defence. The Bulldogs took control from the opening whistle, and didn’t let up once.
The running game was the key to the Bulldogs’ success on offence, just as it has been throughout the team’s six-game winning streak. Jordan Russell carried the ball for two touchdowns on the ground, and Finn Shea pushed his way through for another. The Bulldogs also put their passing game to good use as quarterback Trekker James connected with Jesse Kwasny for a major.
Coach Shea called the defence’s performance its best of the year as Cowichan’s relentless pressure held Comox off the scoreboard until the final moments. The defence was led by lineman Jayden Strzok, linebacker Finn Shea and safety Jaxson Jones.