The junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs celebrate the Island Football League’s Gold Cup last Sunday. (Submitted)

The junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs celebrate the Island Football League’s Gold Cup last Sunday. (Submitted)

Junior bantam Bulldogs capture Gold Cup

Cowichan team caps off phenomenal season

It wasn’t as easy as the final score made it look, but the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs capped off their phenomenal season by winning the Gold Cup as Island Football League champions.

The Bulldogs, who didn’t allow a point in six of their eight regular-season games this spring, continued that trend last Sunday as they defeated the Saanich Wolverines 38-0 in the championship final.

“This game was by far our most challenging of the year,” Cowichan head coach PJ Shea said. “Our team faced some adversity, which really isn’t something that we’ve had to deal with this season. Our strength has always been our defence, and today we relied heavily on it. A great team finds a way to win, and this is a great team.”

The juggernaut Bulldogs outscored their opponents 210-49 over the course of the regular season, the only blemish on their record a default loss when they were unable to field a team.

The Bulldogs got to work early in the championship game, scoring on their own opening kickoff when Laine Hogstead tackled the Saanich returner and caused a fumble that Gavin Kendrick ran in for a touchdown, which ended up being all the Cowichan defence needed as they completely shut down the Wolverines’ offence.

Linebacker Finn Shea, lineman Dillon Wilson, halfback Jesse Kwasny and defensive end Jaxson Jones were outstanding on defence, with Jones scoring on an interception in the fourth quarter.

The Saanich defence blitzed on every play, hoping to stop Cowichan’s powerful running attack. The Bulldogs responded by going to the air, and running back Shea threw a pair of long touchdown passes to wide receiver Kwasny. Shea rounded out the scoring with the only rushing major of the game.

Shea earned Offensive MVP honours, and Jones was named Defensive MVP.

Coach Shea was proud of his players not just for the result, but also for the way they carried themselves this season.

“Throughout the year I have been approached by different coaches, parents and football folks commenting on the maturity, respect and character of this team,” he said. “I’m not sure there can be any higher praise for a group of youth. These athletes, and their parents, should be incredibly proud.”

Cowichan Football will have teams at all eligible levels in the fall, and new players are encouraged to sign up. Visit cowichanfootball.com for more information.