The bantam Cowichan Bulldogs will play in their provincial final and the peewees will play for the Island championship after wins in their respective semifinals at McAdam Park last Saturday.
The bantam ‘Dogs beat the Comox Raiders 14-8 on a wet and muddy day, and the peewees defeated the Saanich Wolverines 16-0.
The conditions slowed down the bantams’ running game, leading to a lower-scoring game than usual. Comox scored first and added a two-point convert, but Cowichan came back to score and went into halftime down 8-7. Early in the third quarter, Ryder Maertz threw a bomb to Landon Locke, who stumbled into the end zone and gave the Bulldogs the lead.
Both teams struggled to control the slippery ball, leading to a scary moment for the Bulldogs as the clock ticked down. With less than two minutes remaining, the Bulldogs just needed to take a kneel-down to secure the win. Maertz scrambled for the first down, but fumbled the ball and the Raiders recovered. The Cowichan defence held Comox to a three-and-out, and the Bulldogs took a knee to end the game.
The bantam ’Dogs will face Meadow Ridge in Langley on Nov. 21 for the league and provincial titles. It will be the first appearance for head coach Opie Williams in a provincial final.
The weather affected the peewee Bulldogs’ passing game, but quarterback Gus Steeves, who coach Trystan Ryder describes as “wise beyond his years,” got strong protection from the unsung heroes on his offensive line and was able to work with receivers Cole Tokarek and Atlas Ryder and running backs Mica Kendrick, Brolin Hastings and Aylin Canning to move the ball, with Steeves and Kendrick scoring touchdowns.
The Cowichan defence kept the Wolverines off the scoreboard, led by linebacker Landen Laver, who seemed to be in on every tackle. Laver, Canning, Rhys McKelvie and Marshall Johnson shut down the running game, and cornerback Alex Erickson swatted down Saanich’s attempts at passing.
The Bulldogs will meet the Westshore Warriors at Nanaimo Secondary this Saturday at 11 a.m. for the Island peewee championship.
A promising season for the midget Bulldogs came to an end last Sunday with a 41-1 loss to the unbeaten North Surrey Bears in the provincial semifinal. The game wasn’t as one-sided as the score would suggest, as all but one of the Bears’ touchdowns came on big passing plays.
“As a team we have been on the other side of these games many times,” Cowichan coach PJ Shea said. “It’s humbling, and it’s difficult. This was the final game in community football for a few of our Bulldog players. Our core group has had so much success over the years, it’s unfortunate that this game went the way that it did. I wish we could have given them that picture-perfect ending.”