They were facing the same team they had played just a week earlier, but the Cowichan Bulldogs looked vastly different when they took on the Vancouver Trojans at McAdam Park last Sunday.
The Bulldogs came within a penalty of getting their first win of the season, but had to settle for a 38-32 loss to the Trojans a week after losing 52-6 to that same crew in Vancouver.
“It was a little bit of playing at home with heart and intensity,” Cowichan coach Mike Williams said.
The Bulldogs’ offence surged over the previous week’s performance, but it was team defence that Williams was most impressed with.
“I was very proud of our defence,” he said. “It was much improved over last week. Scheme-wise, we were better positioned to make a play. It was definitely a team effort. Eleven of the players on our 17-man roster contributed with tackles on defence.”
After battling the Trojans back and forth all afternoon, The Bulldogs appeared to pull ahead with two plays remaining. Unfortunately, the go-ahead touchdown — a shoestring catch by Dakota Cullum — was called back on a penalty to the offence.
“It was a legitimate holding penalty,” Williams said. “That’s how it goes. It would have been nice to have a win, but it was a good building block. We turned a corner.”
The Bulldogs were led on defence by Evan Kwasny who had six tackles and two assists. Kwasny also contributed on offence with eight rushes, including a 35-yard touchdown run.
Cullum also came up big on both sides of the ball with two touchdowns — not including the one that was called back — to go with three tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Cullum’s pick was one of three for the Bulldogs on the afternoon, as Cowichan also got one each from German exchange student Magnus Hansen and Kilion VennRyan. VennRyan also had three tackles on defence and two receptions on offence.
Quarterback Carson Maertz connected on seven of 14 passes, and rushed nine times for 20 yards including one touchdown.
The bantam Bulldogs and midget Timbermen played in front of about 30 Cowichan football alumni, including members of the very first 1965 Cowichan Timbermen team. Many had also been present for the golf tournament the day before. CFL Hall of Famer Al Wilson made a speech at the beer and burger night following the tournament, and Williams thought his words might have contributed to his team’s success on Sunday.
“A lot of parents took that motivational speech and passed it on to their kids,” he said.
Midget Timbermen head coach Opie Williams joked that the alumni may have had a negative impact on his team, which lost 34-7 to the Langley Stampeders.
“I was told that the alumni lost every game their first year  and I guess this bad luck rubbed off on us,” he said. “Every time we started to move the ball, we would have a fumble or an interception.”
The T-Men were expecting a running game from Langley, and were caught off guard by a pair of deep passes early on. It also didn’t help that with defensive lineman Tyler Campiou and offensive lineman Tyler Hudson sidelined, most of the Cowichan linemen had to play both ways. Justin Young was on the field for almost every play.
Mitch Hinton led the defence with six tackles, three assists and one fumble recovery. Derion Hughes surrendered Langley’s first big catch, but recovered nicely and finished the day with three tackles, a pick, a recovered fumble and a knockdown. The Cowichan defence gave up just one touchdown in the second half.
The Timbermen offence did not adjust well to Langley’s blitzing linebackers, and Cowichan’s only touchdown was scored by Kain Melchior on an 85-yard touchdown return. Melchior finished with 61 yards rushing, Amish Dobson had 23, Hinton had 19, and Jake Borserio had five. Quarterback Braemon Conville went 4-for-8 for 33 yards. Ryan Miller and Derion Hughes both ran for 10 yards after catch.
Neither team will be in action at home this weekend as the bantams take on Salmon Arm in Langley and the midgets have a bye. The midgets are holding a bottle drive at McAdam Park this Sunday to help cover busing costs. They will be there from
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for drop-off or to arrange for pick-up.