The Bulldogs representatives at the junior bantam zone bowl: (back row from left) John Rostas, Gregor MacKenzie, Finn Shea and Jayden Strzok, (front row from left) Trekker James, Jaxson Jones, Jesse Kwasny and Gavin Kendrick. (Submitted)

The Bulldogs representatives at the junior bantam zone bowl: (back row from left) John Rostas, Gregor MacKenzie, Finn Shea and Jayden Strzok, (front row from left) Trekker James, Jaxson Jones, Jesse Kwasny and Gavin Kendrick. (Submitted)

Bulldogs lead Island to Zone Bowl success

Eight Cowichan players on Island team, including MVP, defensive MVP and Most Sportsmanlike Player

Eight members of the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs played vital roles as the Vancouver Island team dominated the BCFFA Zone Bowl in Coquitlam last weekend.

“Cowichan players played an integral role in the championship performance,” said junior bantam Bulldogs coach PJ Shea, who also served as head coach of the Island team. “With all of the members from the Bulldogs starting on either defence, offence, or both, the maroon red helmets of Cowichan were present on every play.”

The Zone Bowl features the best 13- and 14-year-old football players from across B.C., representing separate geographic zones. The Island team knocked off the Lower Mainland Selects in their first game, then defeated the Southern Interior team to take the championship.

“Through both games, the Island did not allow a single point, and held each of their opponents to a single first down,” Shea reported. “With an exceptional run game, the Island was able to completely control the tempo and time of the game.”

The Bulldogs were represented by linebacker/running back Finn Shea, quarterback Trekker James, defensive lineman/offensive lineman/fullback Jayden Strzok, halfback/wide receiver Jesse Kwasny, defensive lineman/tight end Gregor McKenzie, defensive end/slotback Jaxson Jones, linebacker/slotback Gavin Kendrick, and offensive lineman John Rostas. The Island team was rounded out with players from Victoria, Saanich, Westshore and Sooke.

Finn Shea was outstanding on both sides of the ball, leading the tournament in both rushing and tackles, and was named MVP for his efforts, Strzok was honoured as defensive MVP for his nearly unblockable performance at defensive tackle, and Rostas was named the tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

James guided an Island offence that got big runs from Kwasny and Jones. On defence, McKenzie had a solid outing and Kendrick proved to be a strong physical presence.

“The athletes on this team came from a wide variety of football systems and methodologies,” coach Shea said. “It was a very interesting process blending the personalities and skill sets into a cohesive group. The coaching staff from Saanich and ourselves from Cowichan were very lucky to have been able to work with these athletes. These players were driven and possessed exceptional skill sets. As someone very invested in the Cowichan program, I have nothing but pride for every one of our players who participated. The Cowichan Valley showed very well this weekend.”

All three Cowichan Bulldogs teams will be in action at McAdam Park this Saturday. The atoms play at 10 a.m., peewees at 11:30 a.m. and junior bantams at 1 p.m.