LANGLEY — Welcome to the Sunday edition of the B.C. High School Football Report. Varsity Letters extends its deepest thanks for our exclusive game images, shot for Varsity Letters by Blair Shier.
No. 1 VANCOUVER COLLEGE 9 at NOTRE DAME 6
VANCOUVER — Two teams with offences so vaunted they ran roughshod over the rest of their competition at every stop along B.C. high school football’s 2021 regular season schedule.
Yet on Saturday, on the final day of the B.C. Triple-A calendar, all the Vancouver College Fighting Irish (7-0) and the host Notre Dame Jugglers (6-1) could do on that side of the ball was offer praise to each other’s uncanny ability to stop virtually everything the other had to offer.
“Our defensive coaching staff had our kids prepared to make plays, get stops, and give us the ball back offensively,” said Vancouver College head coach Todd Bernett. “And you could say the same thing about Notre Dame’s defensive coaching staff… that defense of theirs has impressed me all year and it was damn tough to call plays against today.”
And thus in a season in which the Irish and the Jugglers had only each other left to beat in the 2021 Archbishops Trophy game, it was not about touchdowns.
Instead, the margin came down to those smaller, but equally important entries into the final ledger: A safety, and the eternal gulf which so often exists between a made and a missed two-point convert attempt.
“We played extremely well defensively this afternoon, more than well enough to win most football games,” said Notre Dame head coach Denis Kelly. “However, we were unable to put together enough offense. We broke down in execution and we were forced into mistakes by the College defense.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Vancouver College drove the ball deep into Notre Dame territory but were denied a touchdown on a fumble recovery by the Jugglers’ cornerback, Luca Pante.
Unable to move the ball, the Notre Dame was forced to punt, but the ball sailed over punter Nick Knudsen’s head and out of the end zone for a safety, giving Vancouver College a 2-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, Notre Dame quarterback Aiden Domino found wide receiver Antonio Conte in behind Irish coverage on a 55-yard touchdown play. The two-point conversion attempt, however, failed, and the Jugglers led 6-2.
Vancouver College replied with a good kickoff return and threatened to score but were stopped on fourth down deep in Notre Dame territory. That closed the half with home team ahead 6-2.
The second half was quite even as both teams mounted drives but were unable to score.
Late in the third quarter, however, VC pivot Alex Zychlinski (3-of-7, 84 yards, one interception) connected with receiver Chris Jospeh on a deep post route all the way down to the Notre Dame one-yard line.
From there, running back Tommy Carvalho took the ball into the end zone on third down, giving College an 8-6 advantage. Adding the conversion to made it 9-6.
“Again, consistent with what 2021 has been like, there were plenty of wacky plays, rain-induced turnovers, tough calls for officials. and huge swings of momentum,” said Bernett. “I thought our defensive line created a lot of problems today. Jack Procter led us in tackles (five), Tristan Burrell created a new line of scrimmage, and Alex Kahwaji responded every time he was challenged to secure his edge.”
VC’s Jospeh was selected MVP with Zychlinski the outstanding back. Notre Dame’s Phillip Marin was named the outstanding lineman. Carvalho carried 25 times for 91 yards in addition to his score while Jospeh had two catches for 77 yards.
“Big thanks to the organizers of this year’s game,” said Kelly. “Despite the weather the crowd was great and it was quite a spectacle in the east end of the city. Both schools are to be commended for creating a great football atmosphere.”
NEW WESTMINSTER 14 at SOUTH DELTA 12
TSAWWASSEN — Converts also wound up carrying the day at the annual Kushnir Boot Classic.
The host Sun Devils (2-5) took a 6-0 lead on a two-yard run by Jesse Mitran, but the PAT failed.
The Hyacks (4-3) response was a pair of touchdowns.
First, Harj Grewal scored on a four-yard run, and the ensuing two-point convert was good for an 8-6 lead.
Before the half, New Westminster scored again, when Jairus Pagtakhan caught a 13-yard touchdown from Nathan Drake. The two-point convert failed this time, but the Hyacks led 14-6 at halftime.
South Delta quarterback Kenny Scott scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter, yet South Delta’s attempt to tie the game failed with a missed two-point convert attempt.
“We are happy to take home the legendary Kushnir Boot and close the door on what has been a difficult regular season for us,” said New Westminster head coach Clint Uttley. “With the opening of the second season, we are looking forward to taking this momentum into the playoffs, one snap and one game at a time, and working some Hyack magic as we work our way through to December.”
Added Hyacks’ running backs coach Darnell Sikorski: “We executed our wet-weather offence plan flawlessly. We expected to have a tough time running the ball in the mud at South Delta and we adjusted our base plays and planned accordingly.”
W.J. MOUAT 10 at KELOWNA 62
KELOWNA — Ethan Irvine returned punts of 76 and 63 yards for touchdowns while Jack Nyrose rushed for 162 yards and two more scores as the Kelowna Owls (3-3) closed out its conference schedule with a decisive victory over Abbotsford’s visiting W.J. Mouat Hawks (2-5).
“Overall, I am so happy with the team win we had today,” said Kelowna head coach Chris Cartwright. “We scored on offense, defense, and special teams and were able to get contributions from everyone on our sideline. I am looking forward to seeing what our team can do going into the playoffs, as we are seeing the growth from the beginning of the season to now.”
Quarterback Joey Howorko returned from injury to go 5-of-13 for 73 yards and two touchdowns, including a 22-yard pass to Everett Schmuland, the latter leading the Owls defense with nine tackles and a 93-yard interception for a touchdown.
Nyrose added seven tackles and a pick on defence.
The Owls will be taking on the New Westminster Hyacks next week in the first round of the Subway Bowl playoffs.
“I have a lot of respect for the New Westminster Hyacks football program,” said Cartwright. “They traditionally have been a force, and I think we match up pretty well against them.”
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for (Hyacks head coach) Clint Uttley,” added Cartwright. ‘He was our defensive coordinator my freshman year at Acadia. The impact he made on me there was incredible and I am very fortunate that I have been able to stay connected with him all these years.”
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