The midget and junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs wrapped up their seasons last weekend, and while both teams finished fifth in their respective leagues, only one squad will continue into the playoffs.
The midget Bulldogs finished their season with a dominant 41-8 win over the Cloverdale Bengals at McAdam Park. The Cowichan defence forced a three-and-out on Cloverdale’s first possession, and Mitch Hinton broke tackle to run 40 yards for a touchdown on the Bulldogs’ first series, with Kite Schmidt kicking the extra point.
Cowichan recovered the fumble on the ensuing kickoff, leading to a 22-yard touchdown from Eric [Wheels] Williams. After the Bulldogs forced Cloverdale to punt, Williams ran 32 yards for another major, and by the halfway mark of the first quarter, Cowichan was ahead 21-0. Kain Melchior connected with Garion Ferguson for one more score in the first half.
Melchior opened the second half with a long pass to Braemon Conville, who ended up just short of the goal line, setting up a trick play that didn’t quite work out.
"As this was the last regular-season home game for our seniors, we had a play called ‘Special Willy,’" head coach Opie Williams explained. "This was to give the ball to [Andrew Ketola] at fullback to get him a touchdown. He was so nervous that he left early and fumbled the ball."
Melchior scored later in the second, and the Bulldogs recovered the next kickoff. After some confusion, however, the Bengals ended up with the ball, scoring and adding a two-point convert. Cloverdale tried an onside kick, but Williams recovered it and ran 70 yards to score.
Williams finished with 125 rushing yards, as well as the 70-yard kickoff return. Hinton compiled 59 rushing yards and led the defence with 11 tackles and two assists. Ferguson had two catches, including his touchdown, and on defence collected three knockdowns and two interceptions.
The Bulldogs will travel to Coquitlam this weekend for the provincial quarterfinals.
"We beat the Falcons in our previous meeting but cannot take anything for granted," the coach said.
The junior bantam Bulldogs needed a win over Oceanside last Sunday in order to get into fourth place and a playoff berth, but had to settle for fifth after a 25-16 loss.
The Cowichan defence got off to a strong start, and it wasn’t until the second quarter that the first points were scored, with the Titans taking a 6-0 lead. The Titans botched the ensuing kickoff, and the Bulldogs got into great field positions, but had to punt, and Oceanside came back to make it 12-0.
The Bulldogs got big runs from Dakota Cullum, Dane Quayle and Carson Maertz to get into the red zone on their next possession. Maertz completed a pass to Cullum to get the Bulldogs on the board, and a successful point-after got the team back in.
"During halftime the players were very upbeat and ready to get back to it," coach Tim Maertz recalled. "I think they all understood where we stood at that point of the game, being down only four points going into the second half, all it took was another touchdown and point-after, and we would be in the lead."
Cullum did exactly what the Bulldogs needed as play resumed, scoring a touchdown and kicking the point-after for a 16-12 lead. Both teams picked up their defence in the fourth quarter, but the Titans managed to score two more touchdowns. The Bulldogs marched back up the field on big passes to Cullum and Evan Kwasny, but another interception with 15 seconds on the clock put an end to the drive.
"It was a tough loss," coach Maertz said. "The Bulldogs played their hearts out, left everything on the field, and it showed. The team let their emotions show through afterwards. As a coach, and parent, it’s hard to see them upset like that. But I am so proud of them, and their effort."