Following a tough loss in their previous football game, the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs returned to form against the Saanich Wolverines at Copley Park last Friday night.
With two star players and their head coach away for the ABC Border Bowl, the rest of the team stepped up and played an excellent game. The Wolverines were short on players and took a forfeit loss, but agreed to play a scrimmage anyway, and the Bulldogs reaped the benefits.
“This game was a perfect opportunity to help grow our developing players, and to give them a platform to shine with the extra playing time,” said Gino Buscaino, who filled in as head coach. “It was also a game where we were able to discover hidden talents as well. With the Wolverines short on players to have an official game, I’m glad they chose to play regardless and a great game was able to happen.”
Davin Reithaug had two touchdowns and “hundreds” of rushing yards that helped set up other Cowichan scores, and Bradley MacRae added two touchdowns and two converts. The biggest surprise of the day was Mason Martindale, who took advantage of his first opportunity to play running back by scoring three touchdowns, all on big runs. Quarterbacks Cody Williams and Ben Wilson had solid games as well, and the offensive line, led by captains Eric Guo and Ryland Rowe, fended off the Wolverines defence and opened big holes for their own running backs.
The defensive line was led by Devon Tidder and Rylan Rowe, along with Martindale and Guo.
“We saw really good things from our developing players, and a few areas of opportunity,” Buscaino said. “All the touchdowns scored against us occurred through simple mistakes which created seams for the Wolverines to score. We know the issues we faced, and we will fill the gaps by learning from our mistakes.”
The Cowichan linebackers also prevented the Wolverines from getting anything done. Reithaug shut down the middle, Isaac Keepence kept his side at bay in his first time at the position, Trey West scooped up a fumble, and Jordan Buscaino provided shutdown coverage and open-field tackles.
“This game made our team stronger, deeper, with more experience and confidence,” coach Buscaino said. “We are the defending fall champions, and we feel that we are at a good pace to make sure we repeat as champions this spring season.”
The junior bantam Bulldogs visit Oceanside this Sunday.
The atom Bulldogs lost 20-0 to the Westshore Warriors on the road last Sunday.
“We lost control quickly,” coach Trystan Ryder commented. “All 20 points scored came in the first half. We made some adjustments, and shut things down in the second. On offence, we just couldn’t find our groove, and failed to put points on the board.”
Middle linebacker Aylin Canning and defensive tackle Sam Moore were standouts on the Cowichan defence.
The atom ‘Dogs will be at home this weekend, hosting the Saanich Wolverines at McAdam Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday.