Both the bantam and midget Cowichan football teams were plagued by absences in their games last weekends.
The bantam Cowichan Bulldogs travelled to Cloverdale, where they were beaten 28-0 by the Leopards. The Bulldogs arrived at the field with the Vancouver Mainland Football League’s minimum number of players for nine-man bantam — 14 — while the Leopards had just 13 available, but opted to go ahead with the game.
“We decided to play anyway,” Cowichan coach Mike Williams said. “Otherwise, it’s not fair for the kids.”
Williams felt his team and the Leopards suited each other well as opponents, but the Bulldogs made a few costly errors. They played well on defence for the most part, Williams said.
“We matched up well, but as it has been this year, mistakes and poor team tackling hurt us,” he said. “We had some people in positions they hadn’t played this season, and some of them struggled in new positions.”
The “usual suspects” had good games in the loss.
“With [quarterback Carson Maertz] leading our offence, we moved the ball well,” Williams said. “We had a better passing game than we’ve had all year. Nicholas Young played well on both the offensive and defensive lines. He made some good tackles.”
Although the Bulldogs have yet to win a game this season, Williams is pleased with the players’ progress.
“We’re making huge strides from where we were at the start of the year,” he said. “Our focus now is on getting 100 per cent effort on every play, from every player. Don’t forget, we’ve got a bunch of 14-year-old kids — we’ve got one 15-year-old — and they’re learning what it takes to go from junior bantam to bantam.”
The junior bantams will play their last home game of the season this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. when they play host to Iron Mountain at McAdam Park.
The midget Cowichan Timbermen had similar roster issues last weekend, leading to a 22-0 loss to the Comox Raiders.
Already missing standout offensive lineman Tyler Hudson, the T-Men lost the services of Jake Borserio and Logan Swanson prior to the Comox game, forcing Jonas Joseph onto the offensive line. By the end of the first half, Cameron Vanderleek was also injured, and Wyatt Faickney had to move to the O line as well.
“We just couldn’t move the ball and [QB Braemon Conville] was sacked several times,” coach Opie Williams said.
The injuries piled up throughout the lineup, with Amish Dobson and Scotty Kennedy going to the sidelines in the first quarter.
“We struggled defensively to make tackles to bring down the ball carrier,” Williams said. “Comox was able to move the ball with their running game and short quick passes. We had a lot of guys sucking it up and playing ironman football, grinding it out.”
Malcolm Barr ended up leading the Cowichan defence with four tackles and four assists, while Derion Hughes had three tackles and two assists and one tipped ball that was nearly a pick-six. James Dennis-Orr also had two tackles, three assists and a fumble recovery. Kain Melchior had one and a half sacks, and Joseph had the other half sack. Melchior also rushed for 67 yards on offence.
The Timbermen will hit the road again this weekend to visit the North Surrey Bears.