Welcome to the Subway Bowl quarterfinal round, live from B.C. Place Stadium.
We’re final for the night with reports from all six quarterfinal playoff games today.
TERRY FOX 35 NOTRE DAME 21
VANCOUVER — Their speed and power is rare enough, but pair it with a hurtin’ football heart, and you get the 2018 Terry Fox Ravens.
A menacing presence with its quartet of able running backs, and determined to make amends for its last-second loss in last season’s Subway Bowl final, Cade Cote and Jaden Severy each rushed for a pair of touchdowns as the Ravens twice built 20-point leads en route to a 35-21 win over the Notre Dame Jugglers, a victory which puts them one more win away from a return to the B.C. title game.
Saturday’s win, of course, sets up a rematch of last season’s AAA championship game with the New Westminster Hyacks, this time in the semifinal round this coming Saturday at B.C. Place.
Vancouver College will face Mt. Douglas in the other AAA semifinal.
And after watching the Ravens beat the Jugglers, it’s fair to wonder if Terry Fox has ever boasted an offensive backfield with the depth of its 2018 team?
“I think in past years we’ve two guys, but now we have three (Cote, Severy, Liam Cumarasamy) and it’s four if you count Ethan Shuen,” said Ravens’ co-coach Tom Kudaba. “So we’re happy with what we’ve got, and with the senior offensive line that I’ve been working with since they were in 10th grade.”
It was Notre Dame, however, who started strong on Saturday, building a 7-0 lead when quarterback Will Clarke called his own number, scoring off a six-yard run.
The Ravens’ used a 38-yard completion to get to the edge of the Jugglers’ goal line and eventually tie the game on Cote’s two-yard run.
However eight seconds before the half, Terry Fox counted a pivotal major when Key’Shaun Dorsey, the team’s back-up quarterback, took the snap, threw a lateral to starting pivot Matt Lew-Hendrickson, who then connected with Dorsey on what turned out to be a 30-yard touchdown strike and a 14-7 halftime lead.
From there, the Ravens took command, gashing the Jugglers with their big-play abilities.
Just 3:21 into the third quarter, Cote went 75 yards for the score off a simple off-tackle run.
Just over two minutes later, Severy showed his burst on a 47-yard major that made it 27-7.
Clarke got one of those touchdowns back when he threw a 24-yard strike to receiver Jerrell Cummings.
But Severy, in his usual big-play fashion, broke one down the sidelines and turned it into a 75-yard major for a 34-14 lead with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
Yet when Notre Dame running back Teon Alexander-Amour cut the lead to 35-21 with a seven-yard scoring run four minutes into the fourth quarter, the Jugglers were still in it.
Their only problem, however, was an inability to sustain drives down the stretch.
So when the Ravens’ Kyle Huish made the biggest defensive play of the game with a midfield interception with 2:02 remaining, the game was all but decided.
“We played very well in the first half and took the lead, and then we gave it up right at the half,” lamented Notre Dame head coach Denis Kelly. “We played solid but they made a couple of long runs with their speed and that’s going to keep them ahead of most teams because of the breakaway ability they have. It’s hard to prepare for that because we’re not in a situation, resource-wise, to provide the same look (in practice).”
Although the four AAA scores Saturday didn’t exactly shout ‘parity’ there was still enough of it at the start of the day to keep everyone wondering, the Ravens included.
“I think we expected a hard game,” Kudaba said. “Out of these eight, any one of them could have gotten hot and taken it all, and we still feel like we’re one of those teams.”
While obviously disappointed with the loss, Kelly was asked where he would place his senior quarterback-running back-wide receiver trio of Clarke, Alexander-Amour and Cummings among the other trios he’s had over a long and successful career.
“They kind of remind me of the old Dallas Cowboys where they had (quarterback Troy) Aikman, and (running back) Emmitt Smith and (receiver) Michael Irvine. When you have that you are in good shape because you can stretch the field with the pass to Cummings, you’ve got a breakaway runner in Teon and then you have a quarterback like Will, who can basically do everything. As far as a threesome goes, I think they would be the tops in my career.”
NEW WESTMINSTER 34 LORD TWEEDSMUIR 16
VANCOUVER — The championship mindset.
The New Westminster Hyacks earned it last season with a dramatic Subway Bowl championship win over the Terry Fox Ravens.
And although most thought it had been lost over a frustrating 2018 Western Conference AAA regular season, the Hyacks returned to the scene of their greatest triumph — B.C. Place Stadium — and proved to themselves that taking a second to re-set their inner focus could set them back on the path to a potential championship repeat.
Case in point?
How about senior quarterback Kinsale Philip getting stuffed at one-yard line on the final play of the first half by the No. 1-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers?
How about a stop so definitive by the Panthers that Philips’ silver-domed helmet came flying off in the fray?
But how about using that experience to remind themselves that in so many other instances over the past two seasons, that they had been the ones to believe they could seize the moment?
“There was moment at end of half where we could have done things differently,” said New West head coach Farhan Lalji, whose team led 14-7 at the time. “But we went in at half and we put it behind us, and we said there’s no reason why we couldn’t continue to move the football.”
From that point on, move it they did.
Running back Broxx Comia, finally entering an extended stretch of full health, had already rushed for two first-half touchdowns.
In the second, he tied a Subway Bowl single-game record of five by rushing for three more, accounting for all of his team’s majors as part of its 34-16 victory.
“At mid-season, against South Delta, Notre Dame and Vancouver College, Broxx was hurt,” said Lalji, “and even when he dressed, he was just managed. We needed to get him healthy because we know the type of player he was capable of being, and he is that. The last three games he has been that guy. He’s healthy and he’s confident. We told him ‘This is your time, you’ve been saving it all up for this time in your career and it’s time to ball out and he’s doing it.”
By contrast, Lord Tweedsmuir couldn’t have picked a worse time to struggle.
“I don’t know what to say other than I credit New West,” said Tweedsmuir head coach Kurt Thornton whose charges had gone wire-to-wire as B.C.’s No. 1-ranked team and fashioned an undefeated record against B.C. competition. “I feel like I am just going to stand here and give you the typical quotes.
“But we played big in big games all year long, and our best players made plays when they needed to,” continued Thornton. “Today, they had our number and we always seemed to be one block, one tackle away. I don’t want to make excuses for our guys. We coached them hard and thought we had a solid game plan and at end of the day, it wasn’t enough.”
A lot of that had to do with the Hyacks’ sense of themselves.
“There was just a different sense of comfort that I came to B.C. Place with this season,” said Hyacks’ quarterback Kinsale Philip, who has valiantly rallied from a broken foot suffered earlier this season. “I was frustrated (after being stopped at the one-yard line). I really wanted to punch it in. But I knew our guys would rally, and so I needed to rally myself at half time.”
Philip added that while the Hyacks were anything but favourites heading into play Saturday, that their own inner belief in what was possible had never left them.
“We have 18 seniors and no one talks about that,” Philip continued. “We’ve all been in this program since we were kids.”
No, their finish Saturday didn’t hold the drama of last season’s B.C. finale. It’s doubtful anything ever will.
But they put forth the next best thing.
“The score was probably a bit of an upset,” Lalji admitted. “Not many expected it, and I am proud of our guys for playing the best game of their season.”
There is an old saying about how you can never underestimate the heart of a champion.
On Saturday, when not many expected it, that heart wound up carrying the day.
VANCOUVER COLLEGE 48 SOUTH DELTA 12
VANCOUVER — About the only way you could quantify just how quickly the Vancouver College Fighting Irish turned from givers into takers Saturday afternoon at B.C. Place Stadium was to use a stop-watch.
After VC fumbles led to back-to-back touchdowns on the first two possessions of its Subway Bowl quarterfinal clash against the South Delta Sun Devils, The College looked anything like a team ready to make a deep Subway Bowl playoff run.
Yet despite trailing 12-0, Vancouver College proceeded to score three touchdowns in 67 seconds to take a 21-12 lead and never looked back en route to a 48-12 win.
And in the midst of that offensive spree by the Irish, South Delta’s superstar Grade 11 quarterback suffered a broken thumb.
Although McDonald did his best to gut it out as both a pivot and receiver the rest of the way, Vancouver College’s growing momentum was simply impossible to stop.
After Basil Schincariol opened the Irish scoring on a 14-yard run set up by a Keijan Johnson’s 20-yard sideline reception, the defence stepped up and added two more of their own.
First up was Matt Hoag’s 41-yard pick-six, and it was followed just seconds later by another major when Johnson ripped the ball out of the hands of Sun Devils’ Andrew Kraft, the loose ball scooped then out of the air and taken 16 yards into the end zone for a touchdown by Chris Kongbo.
“In a game of emotion like this against a conference rival, getting a play like that is double-delicious,” Vancouver College head coach Todd Bernett said of each of the two takeaway touchdowns. “You get a turnover, you get a score, so it’s two scoops.”
There was nothing ice-cream sweet about the loss for Sun Devils’ quarterback McDonald.
He had broken his thumb in the defensive series in which Schincariol scored the first Vancouver College touchdown.
“It’s disappointing,” said McDonald. “I know we could have had it. We’re up 12-0 and but then the broken thumb takes you out of the game. After I hurt it, I tried to throw it deep and it went five yards for an interception.”
As tough as the break was, that’s the nature of the game, and the Irish train never slowed down to ask questions.
Schincariol made it 27-12 with a three-yard TD run, quarterback Eric Zychlinski went nine yards with a scoring strike to Bruce Spathis, John Calica rushed home from three yards, and Gabe Bothelo caught a 16-yard TD pass from Zychlinski to wrap up a string of 48 unanswered points.
“I give the kid a ton of credit for trying to gut it out and keep playing,” said Bernett of McDonald. “We didn’t know exactly what it was but we knew he was injured because he came out, and then was wearing a glove.”
Vancouver College, which missed the playoffs last season with a 1-6 record, advances to the semifinals where it will face the Mt. Douglas Rams and its resurgent quarterback Gideone Kremler.
“I am not surprised, and I expected this, even after our September game” Bernett said, referencing his team’s 55-26 win in the provincial capital on Sept. 28.
“I knew that team had more gas in the tank than what they showed,” he continued. “(But) am I looking forward to playing them for the sixth time (in the last four seasons)?”
The two teams met twice in 2015, and once each the past two seasons.
The Rams have a 3-2 advantage over those past five games.
HOLY CROSS 47 PRINCE GEORGE 6
VANCOUVER — The Holy Cross Crusaders may have found their way to the Subway Bowl AA semifinals next week in pretty comfortable fashion, but it would be a mistake to say they didn’t sweat the details through a week of practice.
“My thoughts are all about this being a relief right now,” said Crusaders’ head coach Conrad Deugau after Holy Cross topped the Prince George Polars 47-6 behind a barrage of six rushing majors.
With a supremely talented running quarterback in Braden Reed and a triple-option offence which proved elusive to try to scout with any kind of confidence, Deugau admitted he and his staff were coaching by the seat of their pants.
“John Barsby ran a version of this, but with a lot more pulling,” started Deugau, “but there were so few common opponents. They played G.W. Graham in Week 2, but so much can change.”
To that end, the Crusaders were largely able to blunt the impact of the Polars’ offence at the point of attack, and because, curiously enough, PGSS does not punt the football, that defence set up a number of short fields to work with.
Quarterback Andrew Hunt threw a six-yard TD strike to T.J. Fujimura for a 7-0 lead, before Polars’ Reed ran three yards to pull his team to within 7-6.
That’s as close as it would get, however.
A 35-yard rushing touchdown by Holy Cross’ basketball star Uyi Ologhola, three straight scoring runs of two, six and nine yards by Jack Laurin, an 18-yard TD run off a wildcat snap to Silas Marchan and finally, an 11-yard run set up by a Marchan pick, accounted for the rest of the Crusaders’ scoring.
Deugau and Holy Cross were well aware of the fact that the Polars did not punt.
“We scouted that and so it was like ‘All right boys, you have four downs every time so let’s make the most of it.’”
Despite the loss, Reed’s talent was evident.
“He is an excellent talent,” said Deugau. “That kid gets the ball all the time and so of course we game plan for him. His stats are ridiculous, he’s a gamer and even though he was a little beat up, he kept plugging. I have so much respect for that.”
The Crusaders match up with the Robert Bateman Timberwolves in next Saturday’s semifinal round at B.C. Place.
JOHN BARSBY 49 G.W. GRAHAM 20
NANAIMO — Special teams lived up to their name Saturday in the Hub City.
Host John Barsby’s Bulldogs broke open a close game by recovering three straight kickoffs and scoring on all three of them and setting up a semifinal clash next week with Vernon.
Barsby quarterback Cam Wright was 28-of-40 on the day for 280 yards, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another.
Leading 28-12 at half, the Bulldogs opened the second with Wright’s 60-yard strike to Zach Taylor.
Taylor gained 110 yards on seven carries. Jacub Gillman rushed for two scores for the winners, while Sean Ducette rushed for another.
Defensively, outside lineback Landon Wilson led the team with 10 tackles followed by Taylor with seven and a 20-yard interception.
On the day, Barsby’s defense and special teams forced four recovered fumbles and two interceptions, the five turnovers critical in the win.
ROBERT BATEMAN 28 WINDSOR 0
VANCOUVER — You couldn’t blame Logan McDonald if he had a nosebleed Saturday afternoon in the post-game celebration at B.C. Place Stadium, considering how far his team has come in just one season.
Three touchdown passes from the Robert Bateman Timberwolves quarterback were complimented by a lights-out defensive effort in a 28-0 win over North Vancouver’s defending champion Windsor Dukes in the quarterfinal round of the Subway Bowl AA playoffs.
And now, after going 0-5 in Eastern Conference play a season ago and getting outscored 132-34 in the process, the Wolves are headed for their first senior varsity football final four in program history.
“Honestly, it’s huge for our team,” McDonald. “Our school has never gotten this far so we’ve put in a lot of work. To go from last in our conference to this, it feels really great to improve that much.”
The game was scoreless until McDonald hit Markus Rauch with a 10-yard touchdown pass 2:31 from halftime.
McDonald later threw a 44-yard scoring strike to receiver Sam Davenport, and later a 16-yard TD pass to Ryan Sztuhar for a 21-0 lead.
Running back Phoenix Moller closed out the scoring with an 81-yard touchdown run with 5:31 remaining in the game.
“I thought our defence came to play,” said Bateman head coach David Mills. “They played (angry) all day, with a chip on their shoulder. No one expected us to win this game and we laid it on the line and kept pounding.”
McDonald showcased his plus-plus arm under the perfect conditions at the stadium.
“It was huge,” Mills said of unleashing a passing attack which seemed to resemble the vintage Mt. Douglas Rams and totalled over 300 yards. “Outside in the rain and slop, it just wouldn’t be the same.”
Yet the balance was there offensively.
Moller, who announced his presence with a devastating hit early on special teams, showed both burst and a second gear on his long touchdown run.
“Just having him to keep defences honest takes away from teams being able to just fully play the pass,” said Mills.
And coming away with a shutout is something Mills felt could carry through the week of practice.
Ty Martens snuffed out the Dukes’ best drive of the game with an interception on the one-yard line with 1:17 remaining.
“Do not let them score,” Mills said of his late message to the defence. “Even though game over, we have to send a message that we shut out Windsor. No one has done it this year.”
The Wolves will face the winner of today’s quarterfinal between Holy Cross and Prince George next week at B.C.Place.
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