The bantam Cowichan Bulldogs made it all the way through the regular season and the Island final without a single loss, allowing just one touchdown through nine games.
Since his team had rarely faced adversity in a football game, head coach PJ Shea wasn’t sure how they would react when it came up. Things finally got rough for the Bulldogs in the provincial semifinal last Sunday, and the coach was pleased with what he saw in a 45-20 win over the Langley Mustangs at McAdam Park.
“The team really needed to be challenged,” Shea said. “Langley came out hard and made it interesting for a bit. I’m really proud of how our players reacted.”
Having never trailed all season, the Bulldogs found themselves down 14-10 at halftime last Sunday with a berth in the provincial final slipping away.
“Langley came in and, with a couple of big plays, put us somewhere where we hadn’t been all year: behind,” Shea said. “It was a great opportunity to test the character of the team.”
The Bulldogs adjusted and refocused for the second half and put up 35 straight points.
“Once again, the defence set the tone with relentless pressure and sure tackling,” Shea reported. “Except for three long pass completions, the defence was dominant.”
Jayden Strzok finished the game with three touchdowns, Sterling Henry had two, and Nico Harris added one. Henry also kicked a 30-yard field goal that sailed another 30 yards past the uprights.
“This game challenged the athletes, which is exactly what we needed,” Shea said. “This win was a great way for us to go into provincials: humbled, but confident that they can weather any adversity.”
The Bulldogs will play the North Langley Bears in a battle of unbeaten teams in Langley on Dec. 1.
“It’s the third year in a row qualifying for provincials for this group,” Shea noted. “Hopefully this year we can bring it home.”