The regular season ends this weekend and gives way to the Subway Bowl playoffs!
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11.03.17: Varsity Letters’ B.C. High School Football Report, Friday Night Lights edition

Welcome to our final regular-season edition of Varsity Letter’s Friday Night Lights B.C. High School Football report. .



NEW WESTMINSTER — For the New Westminster Hyacks, their body of work Friday equaled a statement win.

Not to the rest of the Western Conference, and not to any team in particular.

Rather it was a statement win to themselves, a victory which vindicated the fact that a certain level of overall play, one which they’ve spent the past 10 weeks chasing, was in fact something real and attainable.

“It was by far best game we have played all season,” said Hyacks’ head coach Farhan Lalji after New Westminster (9-1, 7-0) executed a well-themed defensive game plan, and showcased explosiveness on offence against the Sun Devils (7-3, 5-2) in the annual Kushnir Boot bowl, which kicked off with first place in the conference on the line.

“Every game it’s kind of felt like we were not close to what we could be, but tonight was the first time (it didn’t),” continued Lalji after the Hyacks wracked up 551 yards of offence on the Mercer Stadium turf, every yard coming via the run game, while limiting South Delta’s vaunted offence to 190 yards. “We still need to fix some discipline stuff. We took too many penalties. But overall, from an execution standpoint, it was exceptional.”

Hyacks running back Sammy Sidhu carried nine times for 182 yards and two scores, with all of his damage coming over the opening half.

And while South Delta rightly schemed to take time and space away from Hyacks’ receiver Sebastien Reid, New West still got him touches from the backfield, and there was no better proof of this team’s explosiveness than the way it opened the second half.

Leading 43-16 at the half, the Hyacks went on to score on their first three offensive snaps.

Reid scored on runs of 33 and 56 yards in the second quarter, and Lucas Sabau on a 43-yard run.

That left the New West defence on the field for extended stretches, but Lalji was happy with the way they were able to deal with the magical presence of South Delta quarterback Michael Calvert.

“We wanted to keep Calvert off the field because he is so special,” said Lalji, “but we scored so fast. For the most part we kept him in the pocket and didn’t let him take over the game like he can.”

Linebackers Sidhu and Kinsale Philip were exceptional throughout, as was the defensive line which played with great discipline in defensive coordinator Clint Uttley’s scheme.

Sabau and Philip, the latter on a 50-yard run from his QB spot, scored the other first half majors for New West. Juan Cespedes and Michael Kingsley also scored third-quarter touchdowns.

Philip led the winners with nine tackles, including two sacks.

“We took a big step and we had a good practice week,” said Lalji. “The bye week will help us get healthy. But it’s important that we don’t look back and say this was the best we played. We have to go to another level regardless of who we play and we could end up getting South Delta again.”


NORTH VANCOUVER — The Belmont Bulldogs (2-6, 2-5) started their conference season with a win over Vancouver College, and although the middle was filled with adversity, the ending was just as sweet for the Victoria squad.

The Bulldogs continued to get game-breaking performances from Eli Nelms-Horton as part of a decisive road win against the Eagles (3-7, 0-7).

Nelms-Horton also made two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

“This conference is so strong top to bottom that any win is huge,” said Belmont head coach Alexis Sanschagrin. “To end the regular season with a win and entering the playoffs getting production from all our playmakers in the same game is good for the confidence of the team.”

Running back Jalen Chung caught a pair of scoring strikes from quarterback Kalen Jules, who also threw one TD pass apiece to receivers Carter Price and Cole Johns. Jules was 12-of-25 for 194 yards.

Defensively, Price and Adam Spandli also had an interception each while Jason Ouellet and Connor Elliott led the teams in tackles with seven and six respectively. 

“Our defence played well but five turnovers killed us,” said Eagles’ head coach Brian Brady. “It was tough to gather any momentum when we kept giving them opportunities. It was a tough season but there’s a lot to build off. I’m really proud of our Grade 12 leadership and the way our players played through some tough games. The boys know that next season begins now and we’re excited about the players that are returning.”

Mahyar Hosseini led the Eagles with 12 tackles and a pick. Quarterback Charlie McMillan passed for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including one to Nick Rich who caught nine passes for 92 yards. However the Bulldogs intercepted McMillan four times on the day.


VANCOUVER — Dylan Rachel’s 70-yard pick-six in the third quarter was the defining moment for a defence which rose to the occasion Friday afternoon at O’Hagan Field.

The touchdown by the Notre Dame safety helped the Jugglers (6-3, 4-3) to a 21-0 lead over host Vancouver College (2-8, 1-6), en route to a 28-7 win and the right to hoist the Archbishops Trophy for yet another year.

The Jugglers had not won the cup, first contested between the two schools in 1957, in back-to-back seasons since winning the last of four straight in 1995.

Ever since, Notre Dame is just 5-17 against the College in the series.

“A great team victory today,” said Jugglers head coach Denis Kelly, “the best of the season for our team. The defense was great and (quarterback Will) Clarke showed his potential as a rising star in Triple A football. We can certainly take pride in this victory but must focus all of our energy this coming week on our first round opponent in the playoffs.”

After several forays into College territory in the first quarter, the Jugglers finally scored early in the second quarter on a long drive capped by a two-yard Brice Pumares run.

Pumares was outstanding all afternoon and was named the game’s best back. He carried 11 times for 80 yards and made several key first downs as Notre Dame controlled the second-half clock.

In the receiving department, tight end Pauljeet Dhami had five receptions for 51 yards, including a 10-yard catch for the game’s second touchdown late in the second quarter. A two-point conversion pass from Clarke to receiver Jerrell Cummings made the halftime score 14-0 for Notre Dame.

The Jugglers marched the ball early in the third quarter but were stymied by first a fumble by Pumares and then by a pass interception and were unable to build a bigger league until Rachel’s timely interception return for a touchdown made it 21-0.

A fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Clarke to Cummings from 15 yards out made it 28-0.

Vancouver College’s Chris Kongbo returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a score to avert the shutout.

Quarterback Clarke was named the game’s MVP by virtue of his eight carries for 82 yards and his 140 yards passing on 15-of-21 attempts and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Notre Dame consistently limited the College rushing attack and stopped their deep-passing game.

Linebacker Cameron Mah led the way with 11 tackles while Rachel had seven tackles.

Linebacker Kareem Oborne had six tackles. Up front the Jugglers got great push from the defensive line led by end Dhami and tackle Richard Nguyen, who was named the game’s outstanding lineman.



NORTH VANCOUVER — Keelan White was perfect on Friday, just like his Handsworth Royals were in winning the Pacific Conference with a 3-0 record.

White caught five passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns, including one on a 76-yard connection with quarterback Evan Currie.

White also rushed for a seven-yard major and would have had five scores if not for a penalty which wiped out a 100-yard pick-six.

Royals’ Jake Bennett caught three passes for 84 yards including a 13-yard touchdown.

Theo Bennedt led the defensive charge with two sacks and a pick. James Mooney had five tackles.

“Always tough to end the season with a loss but we competed all the way to the end and I am very proud of our team,” said West Vancouver co-coach Pooya Dourandish. “During a year with so many injuries we consistently had players stepping up and playing with a tenacity that hasn’t been seen at West Van for a long time. Looking forward to building on the success of this year with our promising group of grade 11s.”

Quarterback Ben Corbett threw for a pair of scores for West Van, including one to Ethan Johnston, and also rushed for one score.

Ryerson Wallace led the defence with 11 tackles.


No. 5 G.W. GRAHAM 0 at No. 3 ABBOTSFORD 21

ABBOTSFORD — The Abbotsford Panthers are showing the benefits of playing the toughest pre-season schedule in the B.C. AA ranks.

It was back over the first three weekends of September that the preseason No. 1 Panthers lost first to Notre Dame, then St. Thomas More and finally Windsor before embarking on their own Eastern Conference schedule.

On Friday, running back Samwell Uko rushed for all three of his teams touchdowns, including a pair from 50 and 55 yards as Abby (5-3, 5-0) won its fifth straight game, blanking No. 5 G.W. Graham (6-2, 4-1) of Chilliwack in a battle for the conference title.

“It was a physical game from the very start,” admitted Panthers head coach Jay Fujimura. “GW has a really talented line and really came after us. It took us a while to calm down and trust in the game plan.”

Abbotsford quarterback Ethan Anderson was also able to move the ball through the air with some big throws to Anthony Phan, Karl Von Einsiendel, and Jacob Macri.

Gavin Khatar (seven tackles, two sacks) and Jordan Hogg (10 tackles, four sacks) led the defence in its shutout.

Abbotsford will play the third-place team in the Western Conference next week to open Subway Bowl playoffs.

“I was proud of the way the boys fought today,” said G.W. Graham head coach Lawrence Smith. “Abbotsford was very physical and Samwell is a special player. He has tremendous agility and vision and his breakaway speed is the best we have seen this season.”

The Grizzlies played without top running back Von Richardson. Darius Kelly carried 19 times for 67 yards.



BURNABY — Surrey’s Crusaders were able to get their first win of the season, be it under rather strange conditions.

Due to a scheduling error, the game had to be played running time, and according to HughBoyd head coach Bruce Haddow, lasted less than an hour.

“We were there, Holy Cross was there, the officials were there, and somehow the field was booked for 8 p.m. soccer,” said Haddow of a game he labeled “a boon-doggle.

“We were supposed to kick-off at 7:30 but rushed a warm-up to go by 7, so we could at least get some playing in,” he continued. “So disappointing. We prep all week, watch video, put our plans together, practice, yesterday in the pouring rain, get the bus out there in good order, and then have it really all for naught because of an administrative error. It leaves you feeling slighted, as if your program, or level, is not as important as others.  We work as hard as anybody, and shouldn’t have to go through something like this.  Pretty darn frustrated right now.”

Said Holy Cross head coach Conrad Deugau: “It was nice to get the first win of the season. The season wasn’t as we had hoped but the end result was a nice finish. Both teams had some adversity to start and we both made the best of it and we were fortunate to have a positive result.”

Matt Silvestre rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Gabe Takewoa another in the victory for the Crusaders (1-6, 1-3).

“It was bitter sweet also, not just because the end of the season but also the last time I’ll coach against the Haddow brothers,” said Deugau of the Trojans brother dup of Bill and Bruce, who are retiring at the end of the season, “I consider them my friends in coaching. I always enjoyed competing against them. I have tremendous respect and admiration for them. I believe the game is worse without them in it. Cheers to them.”


NORTH VANCOUVER — Nanaimo’s visiting Bulldogs gave up the game’s opening score then responsed with 43 unanswered points, closing out its regular season with a decisive victory after being on the opposite end of the score the weekend before.

“It was a good rebound game after a very tough loss to Windsor last week,” admitted Barsby head coach Rob Stevenson after his Bulldogs (7-1, 4-1) were toppled 45-6 by No. 1 Windsor last week in a showdown for first in the conference.

“Defensively we were very solid,” added Stevenson, whose defence forced three turnovers. “We focused on tackling and pursuit all week at practice and it paid big dividends on the field today.”

Steen Rasmussen’s two-yard run and then a 40-yard play on the final snap of the half from quarterback Cam Wright to receiver Kole Postema got Barsby’s offence into flow.

Then, in the second half, Wright went 15 yards to tight end Zach Taylor before Rasmussen rushed for three more majors.



KAMLOOPS — After playing No, 2-ranked Vernon to within a score a week ago, the visiting Maroons (6-2, 3-1) continued to show their quality despite the wintry conditions.

“We had about seven inches of snow on the field and the temp was minus-6,” said Fulton head coach Mike Scheller. “It made for a slippery ball and tough to get traction for the players. As a coaching staff we were happy with how we played.”

Caden Doyle scored his team’s first three touchdowns and Clarence Fulton carried a head of steam into the post-season following a decisive win over Westsyde.

Doyle got things going with a 48-yard fumble return for a score, then rushed for majors of 31 and 50 yards. On the day, he carried just four times for 128 yards.

“I cannot say enough about the impact Doyle has had on our team,” said Scheller. “He is a great kid who works hard in practice and is good to his teammates. He is a game-breaker and a threat to score every time he touches the ball.”

In the second half, quarterback Ike Olson hit Teigen Derkach with five-yard touchdown pass.

Liam Gombrich led the shutout defence, one which made four fumble recoveries, with six tackles, while Evan Trottier had five and Nate Banga three.

“Our defense is playing very well and it’s our strength right now,” admitted Scheller, whose team will finish Okanagan-2 and draw East-3 next week in the playoffs. “They are flowing hard to the ball and executing a smart game plan. Gombrich was a beast in the middle. Ryan Rumsey leads our defense and he is doing a good job captaining us there. Evan Trottier had another very solid game at corner for us.”



NANAIMO — Quarterback Maren Bradbrooke threw a pair of touchdown passes to Anthony Comas and rushed for another score himself, his 328 all-purpose yards helping carry Nanaimo District (5-2, 2-1) to a non-conference win over Spectrum.

Bradbrooke went 10-of-15 for 213 yards, throwing strikes of a 52 and 16 yards to Comas, who finished with four catches for 106 yards.

Bradbrooke also rushed for 115 yards on 11 carries, scoring a 39-yard major along the ground.

“We aired the ball out to open up our option run game which found the edge on numerous plays,” said Islanders’ head coach Nate Stevenson. “Our defense played sound again. I’m proud of these 2017 Islanders, proud of the adversity we overcame since August, and proud of their performance on the field today.”

Receiver Finn Bradbrooke caught three passes for 66 yards, booted a 21-yard field goal and made three extra-points.

Kyle Lindsay and Donovan Davidson-Collie also rushed for scores in the victory.

Linebackers Dakota Moonshadow and Jordan Racette-Wilson each had six tackles, with Moonshadow adding an 18-yard interception return and Racette Wilson a pair of sacks.

Finn Bradbrooke had seven tackles, Blake Sinclair four and fumble recovery, and Bicky Minhas three including a sack.

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