Just as they did in their season opener in early September, the Vancouver College Fighting Irish found reason to celebrate Saturday with another win at O'Hagan Field. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

Fighting Irish top Belmont to keep pace with Jugglers atop AAA West as Saturday brings a close to a tough week for B.C. high school football programs!

VANCOUVER — Saturday’s two combatants at O’Hagan Field brought one of the most battle-scarred weeks f B.C. high school football to a close.

With games being cancelled by extreme weather, injuries and just overall player shortages, noting about the last seven days was a guarantee for all of those involved with simply getting their teams ready to play.

And in the aftermath of his No. 1-ranked team’s 47-6 win over Victoria’s Belmont Bulldogs, it was something Vancouver College head coach Todd Bernett felt the urge to address.

“Overall, we are just blessed to be able to play,” said Bernett of how 2021 has transpired across the province. “This is a season filled with challenges. Some games have been sloppy, some teams are very beat up and have had to forfeit games, and these young players have lost a year of development.

“So I appreciate Belmont not mailing it in, and instead, showing up and punching us in the face. It’s better to get punched than to not even be in the ring.”

Belmont (1-3), in fact, showed the Fighting Irish plenty of pluck right off the opening kick-off.

Head coach Alexis Sanschagrin’s team forced Vancouver College into a three-and-out, and after getting the ball back, scored a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead and later forced the Irish to once again turn over the ball.

“Belmont gave us issues and adversity that we have not dealt with yet this season,” informed Bernett. “We were in a tight ball game through the first half, because their kids and coaches were gritty and competitive.”

And although Belmont made Vancouver College earn their points, the Irish still built a 13-6 lead after the first quarter, then took a 34-0 lead into the half, capped when senior linebacker Matteo Trasolini recovered a fumble in the end zone.

As has been the case a lot of times for the Irish, the offence was powered by its depth: Seven different players scored touchdowns.

Quarterback Alex Zychlinski, 8-of-11 for 137 yards, threw touchdowns of 17 yards to Iain St. Arnault, 13 yards to Thomas Roberts, 26 yards to Chris Roberts and eight yards to Michael Jospeh.

Running back Tommy Carvalho scored on a three-year run to open the scoring for VC, part of a day in which he carried 11 times for 89 yards.

Mattias Eastman hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Billy Tsakumis to round out the scoring in the fourth quarter.

Lachlan Scardina had six tackles along the defence, while Arjan Bhullar, Tristan Sambrook, Joseph and Trasolini all made five apiece.

Bhullar, St. Arnault and Jospeh each made an interception while Trasolini, Carvalho and Tristan Sambrook all recovered fumbles.

“I look forward to having a nice fall in November, because these October games are in the middle of monsoon season,” added Bernett. “It’s tough on both teams, but it’s more adversity that we are going to have to handle better.”

The Irish and Notre Dame Jugglers are now locked in a two-tie atop the Western Conference standings, each undefeated and are, of course, traditionally set to meet in the league-ending Archbishops Trophy game the first week in November.

This coming week, the Irish get their toughest test of the season when they travel to Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park for a 1 p.m. clash with the Mt. Douglas Rams, sure to be stinging from Friday’s setback to Notre Dame.

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