Despite the team's early-season carousel at quarterback, Carson Graham is 1-1 following a gutsy second-half performance by senior pivot Logan Mellish, a fact that has Eagles' head coach Brian Brady beaming with pride. Carson Graham topped Hansdsworth in the annual Buchan Bowl game Friday morning. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

FINAL EDITION: 09.10.21 Varsity Letters’ B.C. High School Football report: Friday Night Lights late-night edition!

Welcome to Week 1 of Varsity Letters’ B.C. High School Football Report

As this is the first time we’ve posted with a full schedule of games since late in 2019, remember that in order to read about all of the contests played in our Friday Night Lights editions, you’ve got to keep checking back throughout the evening. We will be updating as reports become available.

Great to have you all back after our extended absence.

Notre Dame Jugglers’ head coach Denis Kelly. (Photo by Sandra Crema property of Notre Dame Secondary Athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)


BURNABY — Quarterback Aiden Domino supplied the big-play factor, and running back Pedro Cabanas the finishing flair as the host Jugglers set down Coquitlam’s visiting Centennial Centaurs at Burnaby Lakes.

“We opened the season the way we wanted to… by playing a solid game against a very scrappy opponent,” said Notre Dame head coach Denis Kelly of a Centaurs’ squad who showed a penchant for getting to the red zone, and the potential to be a lot more efficient as the weeks progress. “Centennial played very well at times and were a good test for us.”

Still, there was no disguising the powder keg of offence wearing Jugglers’ colours.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter as a long pass from quarterback Domino to receiver Luca Pante set up an eight-yard run by Cabanas who scored his first of three rushing touchdowns on the night. A Noah Banco conversion made it 7-0 Jugglers.

On its next possession, Domino combined with receiver Anthony Amenta on a 76-yard pass-and-run for a major, and a 14-0 lead.

In the second quarter, an interception by linebacker Giancarlo Garcea led to 10-yard scoring pass from Domino to tight end Isaiah Picariello. Banco’s extra point made it 21-0 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Centennial threatened to score as they drove to the Jugglers’ five-yard, but a stout defensive effort led to a turnover on downs.

The play was even for the rest of the quarter but Notre Dame added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Cabanas going in from run six yards out to make it 27-0.

Notre Dame added a late major as Cabanas, subbing for Domino at the pivot, broke away for his third major, a seven-yard run that made the 33-0 final complete.

“We will learn from our mistakes and lapses in execution,” said Centennial head coach Dino Geremia. “I was proud of the team and their ability to fight. If we can continue to play hard, great things will come for our team.”

The Centaurs showed some great character throughout.

On offense Ziad Sabry had 12 carries for 61 yards and also peeled off a 40-yard kick-off return to go along with four tackles.

Cam Keeskotogan  had five tackles while Diego Suarez, a blocking force, had three tackles and a 29-yard catch.


NEW WESTMINSTER — Defence ruled the day Friday night at Mercer Stadium.

In the end, Surrey’s visiting, No. 3-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers had just enough to extract a 7-0 win over the honourable mention Hyacks.

The game was delayed for 90 minutes in the first half and ultimately shortened following an injury to a Lord Tweedsmuir player.

Defensively, the game hinged on two goal-line stands, one in each half, as Lord Tweedsmuir stopped the Hyacks at their own seven- and three-yard lines.

“It was tremendous to see both teams play after a 21-month hiatus,” said Lord Tweedsmuir head coach Nick Kawaza, coaching his first game at the helm of the Panthers’ senior varsity. “Hats off to New West for a hard-fought game. We were very happy with our defence’s performance. Two goal-line stands were the highlights an outstanding effort.”

Nick Kawaza, after his first game as Panthers senior varsity head coach, applauded the effort of his defence, which made two key goal-line stands to beat New Westminster 7-0 Friday at Mercer Stadium. (Howard Tsumura/Varsity Letters photo)

The game was scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter when Tweedsmuir’s Jace Atkinson hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from McCord Leeson.

Nate Swing booted the point-after to round out the 7-0 victory.

The TD pass highlighted a night for Leeson in which he went 4-of-6 for 73 yards. He also carried four times for 34 yards. Regie Elie led the ground game with 13 carries for 64 yards while Atkinson had four catches for 54 yards and the winning score.

New Westminster’s Clint Uttley, also patrolling the sidelines in his first game as the head of the Hyacks, reflected afterwards on an emotional return to the field and all that follows for his team.

“It was great to get back on the field again but it was clear that we were rusty,” he explained. “The players had lots of energy and came out fast, but our discipline was not where we wanted it. We will have to work on that if we want to have success.

“Our defence played well and our offence had moments where we moved the ball well,” he added. “We will need to be more consistent going forward we want to play to our potential.”

Lucas Steele led the way along the ground for New Westminster with seven carries for 24 yards, and also came up big on defence with a team-high seven tackles.


John Barsby Bulldogs head coach Rob Stevenson was poetic in describing his team’s opposition on Friday. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of 2021. All Rights Reserved)


NANAIMO — Is there a coach within the B.C. high school football ranks with a more eloquent way of describing this grand game than John Barsby Bulldogs’ boss Rob Stevenson.

On Friday, after his team left nothing on the field at Nanaimo District Secondary in a lopsided loss to the capital city crew’s AAA No. 2-ranked Mt. Douglas rams, Stevenson reported: “Mt. Douglas is football poetry recited by some brass-knuckle toughness.”

Indeed, while the Rams’ defence held the Bulldogs scoreless and down 41-0 until late in the third quarter, Mt. Douglas quarterback Hunter Swift not only tossed a pair of touchdown passes to receiver Jacob Greenway, but was one of five Rams to score rushing touchdowns on the evening.

“Solid effort on both sides by our players tonight,” said Mt. Douglas head coach Mark Townsend. “We were pleased by the efforts of all players but we still have a lot of room to improve in order to compete at our highest level against a lot of very challenging opponents to come.”

The Rams opened the game by scoring three rushing majors — 18 yards by Malik Gagne-Smith, nine yards by Swift, 31 yards by Miltiadis Koulelis — before the first of Greenway’s two receiving majors, from a yard out made it 28-0 at the half.

After Greenway caught his second to begin the third quarter, Kainin McNay and Matt Ami each rushed for majors to round out the scoring.

In the eyes of Stevenson, the Rams were clinical.

“We played with all we had to the final whistle and walked out of the game proud to have competed on every snap,” said the head coach who saw his team break the silence on offence with a 35 yard pass from Parker Moscrip to wing-back J.D. Mazur.

“I told the fellas that this was going to be an X-ray of everything we do as a team right out of the gates,” continued Stevenson. “The results are in and though we are battered and bruised, we are going to come back tougher each week of the season as it unfolds.  Football is a great teacher in terms of resilience and I think we all believe that great things are going to unfold as we work towards finding our greatness as a squad. I/we are optimistic about the season.”

Outside linebacker Mazur and corner Adam Chambers paced the Barsby defence with nine solo tackles apiece.


VICTORIA — The Ballenas Whalers can be a positional puzzle at quarterback it seems, so perhaps it’s best to dispense with labels and just call them football players.

Parksville’s Whalers rolled into their season opener in Victoria against the AAA Belmont Bulldogs, and as part of a 15-point season-opening victory in which its two-man QB committee combined to throw three touchdown passes, it seemed fitting that one of them went from one to the other.

The Whalers opened the scoring when Ayden Chambers found the end zone on a 12-yard run. Quarterback Ryker Sansbury ran in a two-point covert for an 8-0 lead.

Belmont was able to pull within 8-7 before the half off a muffed Ballenas punt.

Carter Brett opened the second-half scoring for the Whalers, putting himself on the receiving end of what would be a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brayden Jupe.

Then, Jupe’s touchdown catch, a beautiful 23-yard jump-ball effort at the back of the end zone from Sansbury, made it 22-8 heading into the fourth quarter.

Jupe was able to close things out offensively for Ballenas when he connected with Kyle Kearns on a 13-yard touchdown pass.

“We got off to a slow start but then we got rolling when guys started to settle down and do their jobs,” said Ballenas assistant coach Jeremy Conn. “Belmont is big and well-coached and never gave up, so I am proud our kids made adjustments to contain their passing game and not give up big plays in the second half. That said, we have to do a better job making decisions, especially on special teams.”

Enzo Agostini led the Whalers’ defence with three sacks, Sansbury recorded a pick and Brett sealed the game a pick of his own.


Robert Bateman head coach David Mills, pictured in a file photo, debuted an exciting Grade 11 quarterback prospect on Friday. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of 2019. All Rights Reserved)


ABBOTSFORD — Nolan Watrin made his senior varsity football debut one to remember.

The Timberwolves’ Grade 11 pivot opened his team’s scoring against crosstown rival Mouat with a six-yard run to the end zone and an accompanying two-point covert for an 8-6 lead.

Mouat was able to answer back with a running score from Caden Martens to pull the Hawks to within 8-6, but after that, it was Bateman’s front four on defence which was able to exert a level of physical dominance sufficient enough to throw the Mouat passing game off rhythm.

Accordingly, Watrin would go on to put his team up 21-6 on a five-yard scoring toss to wide receiver Braeden Tuchscherer, before A.J. Nguyen turned an interception into a game-sealing 40-yard touchdown run.

Martens stepped in at quarterback later in the second half for Mouat and wound up connecting with receiver Sam Pratt on a 66-yard scoring play.

“Good bounce back game for our team,” admitted Bateman head coach David Mills, reflecting on his team’s 36-0 Week 0 loss to AAA G.W. Graham last Saturday. “Still a lot to clean up, but proud of the effort and enthusiasm they played with today. We look forward to kicking off the regular season next week.”

Watrin and Nguyen were joined in the interception department by Callum Oftebro and Groening, giving the Wolves four picks on the day.

Dawson Hendriks, Logan Thiessen, Micah Barker (who also turned in a bruising performance at running back) and Quan Michales all recorded sacks while  Hendriks also had a fumble recovery.

“I was disappointed with some effort plays on both sides of the ball,” admitted Hawks’ head coach Andrew Harder. “Next week at practice will be a big week for us. We will see what kind of leaders we have on our team after this loss.”

Mouat Grade 11 Talon Trolland gave a nice showing on defence with his tenacity and heart, while Martens, who was solid throughout on offence when afforded some room, carried 13 times for 84 yards.

Mouat hosts Sardis in Triple A exhibition action this coming Friday, Sept. 17. Meanwhile, as mentioned, Robert Bateman enters AA Coastal league play by hosting the co-No. 2 Windsor Dukes of North Vancouver on Sept. 18.


SURREY — Kieran Pama served notice that he is ready to make up for the lost time of a cancelled 2020 campaign.

That much was evident from the Seaquam Seahawks’ 5-foot-11, 192 senior running back/linebacker on Friday.

Pama rushed eight times for 118 yards, a big chunk of that total coming on a an 80-yard run to the end zone as the North Delta squad blanked fellow Triple-A Sullivan Heights in a non-conference affair.

Pama also took an interception 41 yards to the house, in addition to making eight tackles as Seaquam put up 348 yards of offence on the day.

“We were one step closer to being a consistent cohesive unit against a very classy and game program at Sullivan Heights,” noted new Seahawks’ head coach Kevin Phillips.

Quarterback Jack Macquirie was a tidy-and-efficient 10-of-17 for 171 yards and three scores, hitting Jalen York, Connor McCauley and Adeep Sraw with scoring strikes.

Lucan Shannon provided Seaquam’s other rushing score.

On defence, Dallas Wood with six tackles and Alexander Quesnelle with five more, came off the edges with ferocity throughout.

“The atmosphere at today’s game was fun,” said Stars’ head coach Gord Randall. “We had a great crowd out for the first game ever at our school, but unfortunately our guys wilted in the heat and faded after a strong start.

“Coach Phillips had his boys ready to go, and they looked well coached and organized on both sides of the ball,” added Randall. “Our guys really struggled with their conditioning. We’re going to build off the effort and get our guys into shape this week as we get ready for another good test at Mission next week. It’s just great to be out there on the field again after so much time off, and we made sure to remind our guys of that.”


Holy Cross head coach Conrad Deugau has his Crusaders couldn’t help but be impressed by the maturity of his contingent of Grade 10 players who made a splash in their senior varsity debuts on Friday at Abbotsford. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


ABBOTSFORD — There was a juncture of his team’s season-opener Friday in which Holy Cross head coach Conrad Deugau studied the make-up of both his offensive and defensive lines and came to a startling realization.

“At one point, both lines were made up entirely of Grade 10s and they played like they belonged at the senior level,” Deugau said. “After 18 months I couldn’t be happier with the intensity and energy we played with.”

Disclaimer: This was a game played without special teams.

Yet Deugau was delighted with the steps forward his program took in a season-opener played on the road.

“What a great win for our program,” he reiterated.

Grade 11 quarterback Josh Celso threw for 120 yards, ran for 62 yards and a score, and threw a strike to fellow Grade 11 receiver Kai Dizon.

Senior Cam Cividino, as well as Grade 10s Ben Laurin and Shariq Ali all rushed for scores.

“Cam was a monster on D,” said Deugau of Cividino, who also took a pick 35 yards to the house. “He is our leader on both sides of the ball and he brings an unmatched intensity that is the measuring-stick on our team.”

Grade 10 linebacker Keon Bernett was also lauded for the timely nature of his six tackles against the Abbotsford run game.

Upper-classmen Evan Dunn, Marc Billedo and Mitchell Tamis each managed a sack while Grade 10 Samir Victor had a pair.


NORTH VANCOUVER — The old ‘next man up’ mantra is being put to the test early as it pertains to the depth chart of the Carson Graham Eagles.

For the second straight week, No. 4 AA Carson Graham had to test its reserves following an injury to starting quarterback Tanner McClure.

In last week’s season-opening 56-6 loss to Triple A No. 1 Vancouver College, the chores fell to Grade 10 Liam Marshall.

On Friday, in the annual Buchanan Bowl crosstown clash with the rival Handsworth Royals, McClure was again forced out of the game, and this time, fellow senior Logan Mellish came off the injured list and helped spark a second-half rally as the Eagles found their way to an 18-point victory over the Triple-A Pacific Division Royals.

“To be completely honest, I am over the moon,” explained Carson Graham head coach Brian Brady of the depth and character of his quarterback room, reflected in the way the Eagles were able to wrest control back in a game which was tied 22-22 at the break.

“They are all great kids,” Brady said of the trio, “and they all bring great intangibles.”

On the day, the Eagles went a combined 13-of-24 for 217 yards and six touchdowns through the air, while the ground game reflected the team’s overall balance by churning out 191 yards on 30 carries.

It was Handsworth, however, who opened the scoring, capitalizing a fumbled Carson Graham kick-off return.

Yet by the time McClure was forced out of the game, he had gone 4-of-7 for 105 yards, throwing touchdowns of 51 yards to Ashton Fink and 37 yards to Aidan Nemeth for a 14-6 lead.

Mellish was able to come in and show his run-pass skill set, keeping the Royals off balance and putting his team up 22-7 behind a 45-yard TD strike to Nemeth.,

Handsworth not only stopped the bleeding, they knotted the game up at the break behind a pair of touchdowns of their own.

In the second half, Mellish threw for two more scores, going 10 yards to Karsa Tabata and three yards to Griffin Withers.

On the day, Mellish went 9-of-17 for 112 yards, four touchdowns and one interception while also rushing 13 times for 102 yards.,

Fink totalled 124 yards on offence, carrying 14 times for 71 yards and seeing his two catches, for 53 yards, each go for major scores.

“We’ve come a long way in a week,” Brady said of rallying from its Week 1 loss. “Proud of how we rallied in the second half. We played with a lot more enthusiasm which contributed to success. Hoping we can channel this improvement into our first league game next week.”

Carson Graham plays host to Langley this coming Friday (3:45 p.m.), while Handsworth plays at West Vancouver the next day (Sept. 18) at 1:30 p.m.


LANGLEY — Cancelled.

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