VANCOUVER — The moniker ‘Steel Curtain’ has already been taken.
Too bad, because there is no better way to describe the epic manner in which the Vancouver College Fighting Irish has kept teams off the scoreboard this season.
At some point down the second-half stretch drive of Saturday’s Subway Bowl quarterfinal game between the No. 2-ranked Fighting Irish and the Kelowna Owls, the question became less about whether the Okanagan squad was going to be able to score, and more about whether any team the rest of the season was going to be able to do so.
In the end, Kelowna did manage to do it when quarterback Nate Beauchemin connected with receiver Caleb Schlacther on a 25-yard TD strike midway through the fourth quarter.
The 35-7 final score, however, still made the point clear.
“Once again, there was great preparation, especially on defence, and multiple players rose to the occasion” said head coach Todd Bernett.
“That is a really good offence that has a lot of scary weapons and sometimes maybe I spend too much time thinking of what they have,” added Bernett. “This week, I was really focussed on Kelowna’s weapons… so it was nice to sit back and watch us handle it.”
Vancouver College (9-1), now winners of eight straight since dropping its only contest of the season in late September to No. 1 South Delta, had thrown six shutouts on the season heading into Saturday’s contest. In those games, they outscored foes 224-0.
So dominant have they been in winning their previous four games by shutout, and building a 35-0 lead on Saturday prior to the Owls’ lone score, that it’s hard not to call them the favourites.
What has Bernett liked most about the composure of this season’s Irish defence?
“This year, it’s been not trying to do too much,” he said, pointin g out that cornerback Keijaun Johnson was a standout at corner on Saturday. “We’re just playing a D that plays to the strength of the kids… trying not to be too complex. Tiday, I would have to spotlight our entire defensive line. There were multiple pressures, and the pressure from four-man pass-rush looks was tremendous.”
Offensively, the Johnson-Soriano duo got the job done.
“They are a nice one-two punch as a rushing and receiving threat threat,” added the coach. “And I just thought that our awareness along the offensive line on the blitz packages Kelowna challenged us with was a key to the game, and allowed us to turn those two loose.”
The Irish will face the winner of Saturday’s later game between St. Thomas More and Mt. Douglas in next week’s semfinals.
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