The junior bantam and peewee Cowichan Bulldogs football teams finally opened their respective seasons last Sunday, a week late due to forfeits by their Campbell River opponents on the previous weekend.
Both Cowichan teams went down to defeat on their home turf, but both teams played hard and took away some valuable lessons.
The junior bantam Bulldogs were beaten 26-13 by the Victoria Wildcats, although the contest was close until the last few minutes. The Cowichan defence had several sacks, forced fumbles and recoveries, while both the passing and running games were effective on offence, leading to touchdowns by Jesse Kwasny and Finn Shea.
“If not for three or four plays, we could have come out on top in that game,” co-coach PJ Shea said. “There are a few things that we can build on, and some fundamentals issues that we need to address. For the most part, it was a great measuring stick for us as a team. We’ll make the adjustments and come back stronger next week.”
In the peewee game, the Westshore Warhawks returned Bradley MacRae’s opening kickoff for a touchdown and never looked back, although the Bulldogs stalled the Warhawks’ running game thanks to some changes in the second half and big tackles from Cody Williams, Ryder Maertz and Darren Bright.
“It was a great learning experience for the players and the coaches,” head coach Opie Williams said. “We struggled in the first half and the nerves got the better of us.”
The Cowichan offence struggled, although Lennox Weber came up with a few solid runs. Zoe Billings made some big blocks from the wide receiver position.
The peewee and junior bantam teams will both be at home again this Sunday, kicking off at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. against the Oceanside Lions.
Inexperience at key positions cost the bantam Bulldogs in a 21-9 road loss against the Coquitlam Chargers on Sunday.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes again this week,” head coach Mike Williams admitted.
The game was Cowichan’s third of the season, but the first for Coquitlam.
“They had a smaller roster than we did,” Williams said. “Their kids were a lot less organized, but once we snapped the ball they were a lot more physical.”
The Bulldogs didn’t play as well as they had at home the week before, Williams confessed, although there were bright spots.
“Defensively, we played pretty well for the most part. The touchdowns they scored were on broken plays, missed assignments and poor team tackling. Offensively, we ran the ball well, but we still have work to do on the passing game.”
Evan Kwasny scored the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown early in the game on a 60-yard run down the right side, breaking a pair of tackles and bolting to the end zone. Dakota Cullum also played a big part in the success of the Cowichan running game.
After missed convert on Kwasny’s touchdown, it was 8-6 for Coquitlam. The Bulldogs added one point on a punt through the end zone and two on a safety with about four minutes to play. They were down 15-9 with three minutes left, and had the ball in their own end zone. Cowichan only needed to march down the field and score to at least tie the game, but had a pass picked off and run in for a touchdown.
The bantam ’Dogs will be in Richmond this Sunday against an undefeated Raiders team that beat them in the first week of the season.
“A couple plays either way and the score could have been easily reversed,” Williams recalled.