Atom Cowichan Bulldogs 2nd in VICFA Cup, peewees win Dogwood Bowl final

The peewee Cowichan Bulldogs hoist the Dogwood Bowl after an 8-0 win over the Victoria Spartans last Saturday. (Jen Laver photo)The peewee Cowichan Bulldogs hoist the Dogwood Bowl after an 8-0 win over the Victoria Spartans last Saturday. (Jen Laver photo)
The atom Cowichan Bulldogs take the field for the VICFA Cup final at Nanaimo District Secondary School last Sunday. (Jen Laver photo)The atom Cowichan Bulldogs take the field for the VICFA Cup final at Nanaimo District Secondary School last Sunday. (Jen Laver photo)
Head coach Justin Young leads the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs on to the field at the Dogwood Bowl final last Saturday. (Jen Laver photo)Head coach Justin Young leads the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs on to the field at the Dogwood Bowl final last Saturday. (Jen Laver photo)

The atom Cowichan Bulldogs came up short in the Vancouver Island Canadian Football Association Cup final last Sunday, but the peewee ‘Dogs brought home the Dogwood Bowl on Saturday, while the Cowichan junior bantams finished as runners-up in their bowl game.

The atom Bulldogs fell behind the Nanaimo Seahawks White 12-0 early on, but brilliant running play by Gus Steeves and a convert got Cowichan back in the game at 12-7 before the end of the first quarter.

Pearse Molleken came up big in the second quarter, fighting off two blockers to force a fumble and recover it, but the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball and were down 18-7 at halftime.

Cowichan started the second half with the ball, but a quick two-and-out got the ball back in the Seahawks’ hands and Nanaimo scored on the next play, then added two more touchdowns, including a pick-six, for a 38-7 final score.

“I asked the players at the beginning of the season, ‘What are the two most important things in football?’ atom head coach Opie Williams recalled. “Blocking and tackling. If you cannot two these two things you are not going to win the game. This day, we couldn’t two these two things.

“I told the players at the end of the game, that teams have bad games and it sucks that ours was today, and that this game wasn’t going to reflect our season.”

The Bulldogs will get to end their season on a high note when they play at halftime of the BC Lions home game on July 9.

Williams expressed his thanks to all his assistant coaches, including several bantam players who stepped up to help the atom, as well as manager Angie Henderson and trainer Charlotte Stager.

Steeves was named team MVP, Molleken was named Most Improved, Rylen Heyer was named Rookie of the Year, Emmitt Ryder was named Lineman of the Year, and Vaughn Williams was named Most Inspirational.

The peewee Bulldogs played to an 8-0 win over the Victoria Spartans to take the Dogwood Cup and the bronze medal for their division.

The Cowichan defence played lights out in the shutout win, with big plays from Atlas Ryder, Mica Kendrick, Rhys McKelvie and Marshall Johnson.

“Our defence really played as one tight unit,” peewee head coach Trystan Ryder said. “And many plays were ended by multiple Bulldogs in on the tackle.”

Fullback Aylin Canning set the tone in her last game as a peewee, running through Victoria’s defensive line for an eight-yard gain on the Bulldogs’ first offensive play. Kendrick had a massive game at tailback as he earned game MVP honours. The offensive line was outstanding, and quarterback Domenic Reeves got in on the action when he caught a pass from wideout Adam Troy on a gadget play.

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