The midget Cowichan Bulldogs held onto their hopes for hosting a Vancouver Mainland Football League playoff game with a 14-7 win over the visiting Coquitlam Falcons at McAdam Park last Sunday. "It was a very nerve-wracking game," head coach Opie Williams said. "But it was a key win. We still have a chance for fourth place. Win the next two games and Nanaimo beats North Delta, then we will have a home playoff game."
The Bulldogs got off to a superb start on their first drive, moving the ball down the field and building momentum with a touchdown by Eric (Wheels) Williams. Williams, who finished the game with 100 rushing yards, also played a role in Cowichan’s second major, throwing to Eddy Walt on a tailback option. Not content to put up big numbers on offence, Williams also played safety on defence and recorded two tackles and five assists.
Quarterback Kain Melchior had 127 rushing yards, with one 80-yard push ending just short of the goal line.
The Cowichan defence had three huge goal-line stands, ending one on an interception by Braemon Conville on the twoyard line. Mitch Hinton moved to Mac linebacker and had his best game, leading the team with three solo tackles, eight tackles and two assists, and chipped in on offence with 28 rushing yards. Andrew Ketola also had three solo tackles, two tackles and one assist. Landon Conville returned to the defensive line and recorded five tackles, while Tyler Hudson forced a third down by batting down a Falcons pass attempt.
The Bulldogs will get a much-needed rest with the bye this weekend. The following week, they will visit the league-leading North Surrey Bears. The Bulldogs have defeated the Bears twice in the last two seasons, 19-14 in 2012 and 25-9 in 2013.
"I am confident that we can carry on with this tradition," Williams said.
Also at McAdam Park last Sunday, the junior bantam Bulldogs lost 24-7 to the Victoria Spartans – the first defeat for the youngest Cowichan squad.
"Right from the start of the game, there was a different feel to it," coach Tim Maertz said "Mentally, I felt we were all ready and prepared for the game; physically, though I think we were flat. The first half felt and looked like we were playing in slow motion, and Victoria was running in normal speed."
The Cowichan defence continued its strong play, making the Spartans work hard for every point, and the ‘Dogs were down just two touchdowns at halftime.
Maertz and fellow coach Stephen Bowler rallied the troops at halftime, and were rewarded with a stronger performance.
"The third quarter was a great testament to how good both teams are," Maertz said. "It was a back and forth battle that lasted well into the fourth quarter."
Midway through the third, Carson Maertz ran a quarterback keep 45 yards to score, then used the same play for the convert.
"That got the whole place going," coach Maertz said. "Our guys needed a shot in the arm, and that gave it to them. You could feel the momentum shift in our favour after that."
Unfortunately, the Spartans ran the ensuing kickoff all the way back to score, and the Bulldogs were unable to get much done on their next possession.
"I am so proud of these kids," Maertz said. "They faced a situation they haven’t seen this season, being down a couple of TD’s. They didn’t quit. They played their hearts out in the second half, until they heard the final whistle that signified the end of the game."
The junior bantams will look to return to the win column this Saturday when they visit Ladysmith.
The bantam Bulldogs had last weekend off, and will head to Victoria this Sunday to play the Spartans at Westhills Stadium.