Davin Reithaug (82) and Nico Harris (4) run the ball during the Bulldogs’ last home game at McAdam Park on April 6. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Davin Reithaug (82) and Nico Harris (4) run the ball during the Bulldogs’ last home game at McAdam Park on April 6. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Scrimmage against Nanaimo a bonus for ’Dogs

Forfeit win comes with quality field time for less-experienced players

Before they even took to the football field last weekend, the junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs were winners.

The Cowichan team travelled to Nanaimo on Sunday afternoon only to find that the Redmen didn’t have enough players available for an official game. The game went in the books as a 30-0 victory for the Bulldogs, but the Nanaimo players who did show up still wanted to see what they could do against Cowichan.

“They wanted to play anyway so we had a scrimmage,” Cowichan head coach Ted Harris said.

For the third game in a row this spring, the Bulldogs returned the opening kickoff to score, this time as Davin Reithaug rumbled 70 yards for a touchdown that Nico Harris converted. The Cowichan defence recovered a fumble on Nanaimo’s first play, and quarterback Cody Williams pitched the ball to Dillon Wilson for another major, which Harris also converted. That was enough for the Cowichan coaching staff to rein in their horses.

“They are a small, inexperienced team,” coach Harris noted. “And since we were playing basically for fun at this point I pulled all my big guns. Teams in our league go through stages of low numbers and little experience, and unfortunately that is where Nanaimo is right now. Cowichan has also been in this position before, and it is difficult for any club. Our team has a pretty easy draw in our first four games. We have a big, powerful and intense team of players. It is hard as a coach to have to tell players that they need to hold back. You always want your players to give 110 per cent and play above their capabilities.”

Cowichan rookies took advantage of increased time on the field: Ethan Jany scooped up a fumble and ran 75 yards for a defensive touchdown, and Deandré Joseph had a pair of big interceptions. Bradley MacRae had some impressive turns at running back, and Eric Guo stood out on defence with some clutch tackles in the Nanaimo backfield.

“It was good to give our newer players time to play, but our team is really gaining momentum now,” said Harris, whose team improved to 3-0 with the victory over Nanaimo. “As our season progresses, the boys get in better shape and they need competition to stay sharp.”

The junior bantam ‘Dogs will be back on their home field this Saturday, kicking off against the Ladysmith Steelers at 11:30 a.m.

The atom Bulldogs had a disappointing outing last Sunday that ended in a 32-0 loss to the Victoria Spartans.

“The defence was strong up the middle, but could not make a stop on the outside sweeps,” Cowichan coach Trystan Ryder commented. “Our offence struggled against the Spartan defence. Our weaknesses were exposed, and with a week of hard work we are expecting a big game from our team this weekend.”

After playing their first three games of the season on the road, the atoms will play their home opener this Saturday at 10 a.m. against the Nanaimo Warriors.