The Cowichan Bulldogs reached the final of the Vancouver Island Canadian Football Association atom Gold Cup this spring. (Submitted)

The Cowichan Bulldogs reached the final of the Vancouver Island Canadian Football Association atom Gold Cup this spring. (Submitted)

Atom Cowichan ’Dogs battle hard in final

The Bulldogs played the final in Ladysmith on June 23

The result may not have been what the Cowichan Bulldogs wanted in the atom football Gold Cup final, but the coaches were still pleased with the team’s effort in the game and over the course of the spring season.

“Although the score wasn’t what we had hoped for in the final, by no means were we hanging our heads,” head coach Trystan Ryder said. “As coaches we saw huge improvements from our team from the start of the season to the end. We are extremely proud of this group and how they handled themselves during the ups and downs of a football season.”

The Bulldogs played the final in Ladysmith on June 23 against the powerful Westshore Warriors, who went 9-1 in the regular season, outscoring opponents by a combined 254-40. The final was among the closer games the Warriors had played this season, as they beat the Bulldogs 28-7.

Having faced the Warriors twice already, the Bulldogs found ways to slow them down.

“The Westshore running game was strong to the outside,” Ryder commented. “But we were able to stop them up the middle.”

A big run by Dylan Balfour, with a successful single-point convert by quarterback Cruize Heemskerk, gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead at halftime.

The atom Bulldogs went 6-4 in the regular season before knocking off the Victoria Spartans in the semifinals, getting some valuable experience along the way.

“Many of these kids will be heading into the fall peewee season and the lessons learned this spring will pay off come the fall,” Ryder noted. “We can’t wait to get back on the field to start the fall season and continue to build on the huge success we had in the spring.”

Ryder acknowledged the effort put in by his assistant coaches as well.

“Extra thanks and a job well done to junior coaches Eston canning and Gavin Kendrick for all the hard work they put in helping coach the atoms this spring,” he said. “Coach Steve Bowler did a great job working with the offence and we all learned a lot from his experience and expertise.”