Notre Dame Jugglers' Grade 11 defensive lineman Josh Burchak times his rush and his leap, attempting to disrupt the passing rhythm of Kelowna Owls' senior quarterback Joey Howorko on Friday during AAA non-conference clash played in a torrential downpour at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex on Friday afternoon. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

FINAL: The 09.17.21 B.C. High School Football report Friday Night Lights late-night edition: The football gods bring rain and an ensuing fest of good, old fumble-rooski!!

Welcome to a late version of the early edition of the B.C. high school football report.

It was a day for rubber footballs and fumbled snaps, and for foolish reporters stuck over two hours in traffic on Hyw 1 East attempting a quick half-time exit after taking some photos for this posting at the Notre Dame-Kelowna football game which started at 3:15 p.m.!

Apologies to all.

We’ll keep the reports flowing through the rest of the evening.


NEW WESTMINSTER — It was Homecoming on Friday in the Royal City, and nature’s pirates, disguised as last-gasp summer rain and wind, came by and tried to spoil the party for the host Hyacks.

They even managed to blow out the lights at venerable Mercer Stadium, forcing about a 20-minute delay in the opening quarter.

Yet they eventually came back on, and when they did, New West kept the ball close at hand, putting on a displaying of rushing which carried it to a shutout win over a very game crew of Titans from South Kamloops Secondary.

That, and a steady show on the other side of the ball had head coach Clint Uttley and Co. taking another step on the road to Western Conference action, set to begin this coming week in the provincial capital against the Belmont Bulldogs.

“I was happy with the way our defence played tonight,” said Uttley. “I felt we were mostly disciplined and executed our game plan well. We relied on our ground game to get us through the terrible weather but moving forward we will need to be more balanced as we move into our tough league schedule.”

That ground game truly ground out some big numbers. Lucas Steele rushed 20 times for 168 yards, and Jairus Pagtakhan 11 times for 119 more.

Curiously enough, while the duo set the table in terms of field position, they left the scoring to their teammates.

Harj Grewal threw at 17-yard scoring strike to Nathan Drake to open the game’s scoring at 6-0 in the second quarter.

A safety made it 8-0 at halftime.

In the third, Grewal rushed for a one-yard major with a Pagtakhan two-pointer tacked on for a 16-0 lead.

In the fourth, Romeo Gallardo capped things with a 10-yard touchdown run.

Gray Glavas led the defence with a pair of interceptions.

“The defense stood tall again for a second straight game, this time against a very scrappy and tough team,” added Uttley. “They really played well as a team tonight. They did the work and were in the right place to snag a couple of picks and make some things happen. It was really great to get a win tonight for our seniors, the homecoming crowd who came out and cheered hard for us in the rain.”

Added South Kam head coach Brad Yamaoka: “I thought our linebacker group of Grayson Peters, Jakob Kies, Kai Yamaoka and Kelsey Watson played a great game. They were flying around making plays all night. We were outmatched on the line of scrimmage but again, I thought the boys stepped up their game. The goal was to play more physical and I feel we accomplished that.”


NANAIMO — Safety Beau Nevraumont recovered an errant long snap and turned it into a touchdown as the visiting Bulldogs parlayed a 28-0 halftime lead over the host Islanders into a 36-7 victory which it carries into Western Conference AAA play next week against New Westminster.

“Weather was obviously a factor,” Belmont head coach Alexis Sanschagrin said of a Friday slate of B.C. games which may have been more impacted by rain than almost any other since early this century.

“NDSS was young and demonstrated great grit in the loss,” he added. “But on our end, we are happy to have had the opportunity to give meaningful playing time to everyone, which will be valuable as the season progresses. It is however two weeks in a row that we take too many penalties, especially on the line, and hope that we can clean it up before we start regular season play next week.”

As part of that first-half flurry, quarterback Hudson Poppitt rushed for two scores, while running back Leo Jiminez Durant carried for another.

Jiminez Durant added another in the second half while Nanaimo District’s Nate Smith took a kickoff back 90 yards in the fourth quarter for the Islanders’ lone score.

Linebackers Olk Gashi and Fin Duncan and safety Rick Parmar all recovered fumbles for Belmont.

Nanaimo District linebacker Josef Paradis had seven tackles and an interception.

“We fumbled far too many exchanges on offense and could not get any momentum or flow established,” summed Isles’ coach Nate Stevenson. “Defensively, once we gathered ourselves, we started to see our assignments better. We had a tremendous game from our underclassmen and I couldn’t be prouder of those players. We are certainly keen for more football and will use this game to push ourselves deeper into the season.”


SURREY — North Delta’s Seaquam Seahawks are getting it done at both ends of the field, and there is no better example of that than running back/linebacker Kieran Pama.

Seaquam’s two-way star not only scored a touchdown on offence as part of 92 combined rushing and receiving yards in Friday’s in a win over the host Mariners, he absolutely shone on defence.

Pama totalled eight tackles, returned an interception 90 yards to set up one of quarterback Jack Macquarrie’s two rushing majors, and returned a blocked punt for a major, all ahead of next week’s big game against the No. 4 Notre Dame Jugglers.

“We’re proud of boys for putting in a great effort in tonight’s game to overcome adversity multiple times, I thought we played great defence,” he added of the schemes implemented by co-defensive co-ordinators DJ Bowen and Victor Nunez.

Offensively, Macquarrie rushed for a pair of scores and also threw a touchdown pass to Pama. Lucas Shannon led Seaquam in rushing with 68 yards, while Pama added 52.

Defensive end Alexander Quesnelle had five tackles and a sack. Adeep Sraw, Brennain Chow and Jordan Sanghera had one interception apiece.

“Offensively there were several positives to build on considering the monsoon conditions we had to deal with,” added Phillips. “This upcoming week we will have our toughest test to date in the ranked Notre Dame Jugglers so we’re glad we came away healthy in this game.”

The Mariners couldn’t help but look back at Pama’s interception return late in the first quarteras a key point in the contest.

On fourth-and-goal, Marriott head coach Todd Fenwick and offensive coordinator Sean O’Neil elected to go for it rather than kick a field goal.

The ensuing swing pass deflected off the facemask of running back Nick Napper and right to a Pama who returned the interception to the goal line.

Although Macquarrie later scored, it was great hustle by Marriott’s Carter Fenwick which prevented Pama from scoring yet another major.

“Our defence fought incredible hard all game, despite being handed some truly awful field position,” said Marriott’s JC Abbott. “The linebacking corps of Fenwick, Napper, CJ Augustine and Jaden Ackerman were all exceptional.”

Senior defensive lineman Alex Walker had a number of big tackles for losses and Grade 11 defensive end Kaden Cambridge arrived on the scene in a big way, recording a sack, another huge QB hit and a forced fumble.


LANGLEY — The Thunderbirds had a debut to remember.

The former Langley Saints christened their new team nickname, logo and colours to great effect Friday at McLeod Stadium, despite the fact that Ashton Fink of the visiting Carson Graham Eagles returned the opening kick-off 86 yards for what would be the North Vancouver team’s only score.

With Manny Fotiou and Nav Pooni leading the way, however, Langley responded with a 30-yard scoring run from Reece Griffith as its parade of unanswered points began.

“Not having an exhibition game we were caught flat footed early by a kickoff return by Carson,” said offensive coordinator Joe MacLeod. “It ended up being the play that we needed to wake up and know that the season was underway. After that, our defense rallied and clamped down and we broke the game open with a big run. Our O-line led us in a physical, grinding effort in the rain. The weather conditions made the game difficult to pass the ball, and as a result the score was a bit unflattering for Carson.”

Big days on offence for the ‘Birds?

Aaron Linden rushed for 131 yards and two scores, and added a third via a 90-yard kick-off return.

Ryan Goesen rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns, while Griffith rushed for 90 yards and two more.

On defence, safety Jordan Tomica had six tackles and an interception, while defensive end Nick Reimer (seven tackles) and linebacker Kai Verbicky (five tackles) each managed a pair of sacks.

“It was an exciting start to the year for us and an exciting debut for our new team identity as the LSS Thunderbirds,” added MacLeod.

Carson Graham lineman Josh Metz led the Eagles with five tackles.


ABBOTSFORD — The rains came, so the Sardis Falcons kept it on the ground en route to a decisive shutout win.

“For a wet and miserable night, we ran the ball extremely well,” admitted Sardis head coach Sukh Parmar, whose Grade 10 running back Bill Hunter carried for a pair of scores against the host Hawks.

“On the whole, our offensive and defensive lines both played very well,” he added.

Senior quarterback Aidan Saunders called his own number from seven yards out for a major score, while slotback Sawyer Tether rushed for a five-yard major.

The rest of the points came via the two-point conversion, with Saunders running in a pair, and throwing one to D.J. Saunders.

“Proud of our players, and that was a major win for our program,” added Parmar.

Mouat coach Andrew Harder, like coaches throughout the region today, couldn’t ignore the impact of the wet stuff.

“Rain, rain and more rain,” said Harder. “Sloppy play by a Mouat offense (which fumbled seven times). Credit to Sardis and their boys for coming out and playing their hearts out. Coach Sukh had their boys fired up and playing an aggressive brand of football. Responsibility always falls on the coach and I have to do a better job of preparing our athletes during the week.” 

In a game that might have set some kind of modern-day record for fumbled snaps, hand-offs and kick returns, Kelowna Owls defensive coordinator Trent Schmuland peers out from under the bill of his cap at wild and wet Burnaby Lakes Sports Complex as his squad faced the host Notre Dame Jugglers. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


BURNABY — At one point in the opening quarter, with seemingly every third snap resulting in a miscue under miserably-wet conditions at Burnaby Lake, Notre Dame head coach Denis Kelly could be overheard asking if it was maybe time to use a rubber football.

In the end, despite the elements, the Jugglers’ defense held their opponents to under 100 yards of total offense for the second week in a row in a decisive shutout of the Kelowna Owls.

“Jordan did another outstanding job getting our defence ready for the Kelowna offence,” Kelly noted in the post-game of DC Jordan Liberman. “Our defense is starting to really play aggressive, alert and relentless football. 

“Offensively, we definitely struggled at times because Kelowna applied lots of pressure, but some key passes and runs by (quarterback Aiden) Domino opened the game up in the second half.”

Running back Pedro Cabanas opened the scoring on a six-yard run on a drive set up by a key pass completion from Domino to wide receiver Luca Pante. Noah Banco, defensive tackle and kicker, added the extra point to make it 7-0.

Banco then made a key sack on the Kelowna quarterback, registering a safety by tackling him in the end zone to push the gap to 9-0.

The Notre Dame defense, playing inspired all afternoon, continually provided the offense with outstanding field position, but the Kelowna defense was equal to the task as they held the Jugglers out of the end zone until the final minute of the half when Domino took it 15 yards to the house and then added the two-point convert for a 17-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, the defense was again dominant as they forced several Kelowna fumbles, aided by the very wet conditions. On the afternoon, the Jugglers came up with four fumble recoveries (Giancarlo Garcea, Aiden Thomas, Phillip Marin and Cabanas).

At the end of the third quarter the offense got untracked with a touchdown pass from Domino to Conte. Banco’s convert was wide but score still sat at 23-0.

Domino then called his own number on a 10-yard keeper to make it 29-0 at the end of the third quarter.

Notre Dame Jugglers’ head coach Denis Kelly called time out late in the second half to chat with quarterback Aiden Domino about the plethora of fumbles caused by the rain as the football gods rained down on Week 2 of B.C. High School Football. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)

In the fourth quarter Cabanas, subbing for Domino at quarterback, hit tight end Massimo Ryan on a 15-yard scoring pass. Banco’s conversion made the 36-0 victory complete.

“It was really hard for us to get anything going on offense,” admitted Owls head coach Chris Cartwright. “One of our strengths is our passing, but we were not able to get a consistent drive going… and fumbles were an issue for us.”

Jack Nyrose rushed for 41 yards, while Owls’ quarterback Joey Howroko showed some great leadership on the field to try and get his team going.

“Very proud of Joey as he was doing his best to keep his team up in some tough situations,” added Cartwright.

The Kelowna defense kept them in the game going into the second half where solid plays were made in the secondary by Ryan Smith and Jackson Saini. Everett Schmuland led the defense with six tackles.

“Overall, we are super excited that we were able to play a football game after almost two years without playing,” added Cartwright. “There were some great things we showed today and we look forward to building off this experience.”


NORTH VANCOUVER — Friday’s bout of bad weather meant no one was going to be scoring high in style points.

Parksville’s AA No. 1-ranked Whalers figured that out long before kick-off Friday when the team found out on the ferry to North Vancouver that the the Pipers’ own field had been flooded.

After numerous texts and calls the game was eventually moved to Windsor Secondary.

“Everyone was just glad to play football once we kicked off,” noted Ballenas coach Jeremy Conn. “Then we realized offenses were going to struggle in the torrential downpour. It was zero to zero at the half.”

The Whalers, defending their No. 1 ranking on the road for the first time, fell behind 2-0 in the third quarter when a snap sailed over the head of the Argyle punter and through the end zone for a safety.

Yet the Whalers somehow found a way to win.

In the fourth quarter, defensive end Enzo Agostini scooped up a fumble and ran 45 yards for game’s only major, and Ayden Chambers added a two-point covert to seal the win.

“That was ugly but a win is a win,” said Conn. “We have to learn how to execute better in such conditions, but kudos to Argyle for a great defensive game plan.”

Defensively for Ballenas, Ryker Pearson sealed the game with an interception while Jonah Anderson and Agostini each recorded two sacks and three tackles.


VANCOUVER — You can’t deny the precision and the efficiency with which Alex Zychlinski runs the passing game of B.C.’s No. 1 AAA high school football team.

On Friday at rainy O’Hagan Field, Zychlinski went a stingy 6-of-9 through the air, yet half of his completions went for touchdowns as part of a tidy 105-yard day in a shutout win over Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs.

Zychlinski threw scoring strikes of 10 yards to Thomas Roberts and 21 yards to Michael Joseph (two catches for 34 yards) in the second quarter, and in the third quarter went  22 yards to Josh Fediuk.

Zychlinski also called his own number, rushing for a 16 yard score just before the break, putting the Irish on top 20-0.

Krztian Apostol wrapped up the scoring on a one-yard run.

Centennial head coach Dino Geremia quantified the level of execution needed to score points against a vaunted Irish defence — led by the tackling of Aidan Sanders, Tristan Burrell and Iain St. Arnault — which as a unit had seven different players register a sack and two others recover fumbles.

“We needed to capitalize on our early opportunity in the red zone,” began Geremia, “but it always stings when you get down inside their five and do not find a way to pump it in. We made some mistakes and got some bad penalties, and that is bad against any team, but against VC, they make you pay.”

Centaurs’ running back Ziad Sabry carried 20 times for 85 yards in the loss.

No. 5 HOLY CROSS 0 at No. 5 JOHN BARSBY 37

NANAIMO — Two teams part of a three-team log-jam at No. 5 in the latest Varsity Letters AA rankings went in two very different directions Friday in the Hub City.

John Barsby opened up the game with an 85 yard kick-off return for a touchdown by Chez Rendnour-Bruckman against the young Crusaders, eventually building to what would be the final score before halftime.

Wingback J.D. Mazur scampered for scores on runs of two and 12 yards, Grade 10 fullback Colton Finstad did likewise from five yards, and quarterback Parker Moscrip went 26 yards to receiver Mike Edwards.

The Barsby defense played tough throughout the game led by free safety Adam Chalmers’ seven tackles and fumble recovery. Outside linebacker Colby Fuchs played solid with four tackles and an interception. 

“We were particularly proud of how the guys bounced back from last week’s Mt. Douglas game with their best week of practice to date,” said Barsby head coach Rob Stevenson, whose squad was topped 48-6 by the AAA Rams last Friday.

“Special teams were a difference maker with not only a score, but great field position obtained throughout the game,” added Stevenson.

No. 2 AA VERNON 12 at No. 5 AAA G.W. GRAHAM 14

The skinny on Vinny?

If you’re talking about G.W. Graham Grizzlies rush end Vinny Branauer, it’s all about a defensive motor that doesn’t know how to quit.

“Vinny is the engine on our D-line” noted Grizz defensive coordinator Ian Parks, “He never takes a play off and the numbers reflect that.”

On Friday, Branauer had six tackles, six sacks and a tackle for loss as the Triple A No. 5 hometown squad outlasted the tough AA No. 2-ranked Panthers by a pair at soggy Exhibition Stadium.

“GW’s front four played an outstanding game and made life very difficult for us to execute our offense,” added Vernon head coach Sean Smith.

“Hats off to those guys, they are big and brought it every snap. We made a couple of adjustments at the half and moved the ball and got into a bit more rhythm – but those D-linemen were definitely the difference makers in the game and were very disruptive.”

On a day when running back Sam Mannes carried 14 times for 112 yards, and fellow RB Gage O’Neill added another six carries for 41 yards and a score, G.W. Graham continued what has been a successful transition to B.C.’s largest tier.

Quarterback Lucas Feaver tossed a 35-yard touchdown to receiver Josh Caverly in the second quarter to complete the Grizzlies’ scoring

“We knew this would be a great test for us” commented GWG head coach Luke Acheson, acknowledging that “Vernon has been the AA standard the last few years and have become something of a dynasty with back-to-back provincial titles. They are well coached and very organized – we knew it would be very tough and it was.”

Vernon’s only points came on a safety midway through the fourth quarter.

“This was a tough, hard-nosed football game played in a torrential downpour that hampered both teams ability to move the ball,” commented the Panthers’ Smith.

Vernon could not find any offensive rhythm in the first half, getting into long down-and-distance situations for most of their drives. For their part, the Grizzlies capitalized on the ensuing short fields that a lack of offense create.

“I thought our defense played equally well with an under-manned and much smaller crew and executed our game plan to perfection,” Smith said proudly of a group which forced six turnovers (five fumbles and one interception). “They moved the ball on us in the first quarter and, after that, we were very stout. Unfortunately, missed tackles were a major factor in both of their touchdown drives. If we can clean up the sloppy tackling, we’ll be fine.”

Braden Khunkhun went 7-of-21 for 110 yards and one pick for Vernon, and also rushed nine times for 42 yards.

Roan Reid caught eight passes for 84 yards.

On defence, Grayson Statham had eight tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a safety. Roan Reid forced a pair of fumbles, and along with teammate Nolan Matthews registered six tackles.


SURREY — Cancelled.

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