For the second year in a row, the Cowichan Bulldogs fell victim to the unusual format of the provincial nine-man junior bantam football championships.
The Bulldogs finished second in the round robin portion of the tournament, but ended up third after the shootout playoffs.
In the shootout, each team gets one possession to either score points or get a first down, starting at their opponents’ 20-yard line. This year’s Bulldogs team lost 6-1 to the Shuswap Chargers in the shootout semifinal. Nico Harris forced a fumble on Shuswap’s last chance to score, but the Chargers recovered it in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
In 2017, the Bulldogs were burned in the final, losing 1-0.
“I really don’t think that this format is the proper way to determine the true champions,” Cowichan coach Ted Harris said. “A football game consists of four quarters and anything can happen in the last quarter of a game.”
The Bulldogs got off to a fantastic start in the round robin, sinking the Vanderhoof Vikings 30-0 on two touchdowns from Dillon Wilson and one each from Davin Reithaug and Nico Harris, while Harris was also 3-for-4 on converts. Cowichan and Shuswap played to a scoreless tie in the next match. In their third and final round-robin game, the Bulldogs were defeated by the eventual tournament champion South Delta Rams.
“The Rams went to the air several times and beat us for some big gains,” coach Harris said. “We were worn out after a long day and now our third game. The boys did very well considering the temperature at the stadium was now at that time -6 C.”
Wilson was named Cowichan’s tournament MVP as the Bulldogs collected bronze medals.
“My boys played awesome considering the cold and sleep deprivation,” Harris said. “I am so proud of all of them for their efforts this season. Individually every player has improved their skills and football development in one way or another. As a coach this is all you want from your team.”