It was a historic weekend for the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs, who handed the defending provincial champion Victoria Renegades their first loss in more than three years.
The Bulldogs rolled into Copley Park and rolled right over the Renegades, dominating on offence, defence and special teams in a 30-7 victory.
“Our Bulldogs were exceptional,” proud head coach PJ Shea said. “The hard work, the commitment, the drive that they showed was remarkable. This team made a huge statement. These kids from Cowichan come to play.”
From leadership to strong play, Trekker James did everything a quarterback is supposed to as he guided the nearly unstoppable Bulldogs offence. James and Finn Shea both had 40-plus-yard touchdown runs. Gavin Kendrick also caught a pass for a touchdown.
The Cowichan defence got standout play from defensive ends Jaxson Jones and Gregor MacKenzie and an interception from rookie Ryan Smith as they smothered the Victoria offence. The ultimate backbreaker was delivered by the Bulldogs’ special teams, when Finn Shea returned the opening kickoff 76 yards to score.
The midget Bulldogs trounced the Comox Raiders for the second time this season, winning 34-0 on the road last Sunday.
The Bulldogs scored on their first two offensive plays, a 65-yard run by Damian McCuaig-Jones and a 22-yard pass-and-run connection from quarterback Carson Maertz to Dakota Cullum. Other touchdowns came from Brayden Doucette, Evan Kwasny, and McCuaig-Jones on a 75-yard run.
“Our defence played well,” said head coach Mike Williams, who left the reins in the hands of his assistant coaches for the game but caught up by watching video. “They were really aggressive.”
Ten different players recorded a tackle against Comox, and the Bulldogs only allowed two or three big plays, all on missed tackles.
For the first time in Williams’s coaching career, he had someone tossed from a game after the unnamed player incurred three unnecessary roughness penalties.
“We’ve got some discipline issues we need to correct,” the coach said.
The peewee Bulldogs also faced the Renegades in just their second game of the season. Cowichan held Victoria to just 14 points in the first half, but struggled to contain the Renegades’ offence in the second half, falling 30-0.
Cody Williams and Ryder Maertz, two of only six returning players on the peewee team, were the leading tacklers for the Cowichan defence. Also back from last season are Jaeden Williams, Darren Bright, Curtis Rice and Bradley MacRae.
“With all the new players, our offence is off; the timing hasn’t meshed yet,” coach Opie Williams said. “I am hoping the newcomers Kaden [Backman], Denver [Wheeler], Dakota [Creamer], Austin [James], Aiden [Muth], Ben [Pelkey], Parker [Bertrand] and Erik [Labbe] will be a great fit.”
The peewee Bulldogs have a makeup game at Westhills Stadium this Friday evening. Both the peewee and junior bantam teams will be on the road against the Westshore Spartans on Sunday. The Cowichan midgets had their scheduled game against Prince George this Sunday cancelled.