Handsworth quarterback Brett Birch-Jones (left) and running back Robert Lutman were among the Royals whose perseverance gave the North Van team its signature win thus far this season. (Photo by Blair Shier property of Blair.photo 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

FINAL EDITION: Varsity Letters’ 10.18.19 Friday Night Lights B.C. High School Football Report

Welcome to the Final Edition of Varsity Letters’ Friday Night Lights B.C. High School Football Report.

Keep us in mind Saturday as more action unfolds.

And remember that the Subway Bowl playoffs kick-off exactly three weeks from today!





VICTORIA —The South Delta Sun Devils (5-0) are setting the pace atop the West heading into Saturday’s huge battle royale between division mates New Westminster(4-0) and Vancouver College (3-1).

Quarterback Ben McDonald threw three touchdowns, passes, including strikes of 42 and 14 yards to Rhys Porteous, then called his own number on a 70-yard run to the end zone in a decisive win at Victoria’s Bulldogs (0-5).

McDonald was clobbered while throwing the ball and the resulting interception was run into the end zone for Belmont’s only points of the game.

McDonald also threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Troniak, as well as running in a pair of two-point coverts.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Hunter Norman replaced McDonald in the pivot and hit Porteous with an 87-yard touchdown pass. He then hit Evan Davies on the ensuing two-point convert.


KELOWNA — The host Owls (3-2) played their final home game of the conference season Friday, winning in style against the Mission Roadrunners (1-4).

“I was happy for the win and for our seniors,” said KSS head coach Chris Cartwright. “It was a special night celebrating our Grade 12s.”

Quarterback Nate Beauchemin was 8-of-11 for 262 yards, leading a big-play offence with 262 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Nolan Ulm caught three of those passes for 82 yards, two of which went for scores

Noah Gross rushed for 87 yards, including a 66-yard rushing major. Risto Zimmer nailed all seven of his PATs.

Tariq Brown lead the Owls defence with seven tackles and two sacks. Kasian Kayfish also made seven tackles.


VICTORIA —Thirty-four is their magic number.

After giving up 35 points in a 35-14 loss to end September, Victoria’s host Rams scored 34 points for a third straight week, earning a third straight conference win over a stretch in which tonight’s eight points allowed have been the only opposition offering to cross its goal line.

An outstanding defensive performance was led by Cole Bunting with six tackles and  Nelson Carnell and Luke Kedves with one interception each.

“In the face of poor weather conditions, the team delivered an exceptional overall performance,” said assistant coach Dave Wong. “Special Kudos go to the offensive line for their outstanding work in the trenches.”

Running backs Cole Bunting and Peter Primeau combined to rush for 147 yards, and the pair, along with Miltiadis Koulelis and Hunter Swift, each rushed for one score.

The Rams’ sole completion was a spectacular 22-yard touchdown catch by Linden Williams.

In extremely wet weather, the Mt. Douglas offence generated 287 total yards along the ground.

“Despite losing big, the coaching staff and I were really proud of our guys,” said Carson Graham head coach Brian Brady as quarterback Lucas Granger went 8-of-16 for 138 yards, including a 43-yard TD strike to Ethan Pratt, while the defence was paced by 10 tackles from James Usher, and eight tackles and a sack by James Curleigh.

“We took a step forward today towards improving our attitude and effort, and in muddy conditions in driving rain or guys fought to the end,” he added.


NORTH VANCOUVER — Just when it looked like the Notre Dame Jugglers were ready to break into the win column, the Handsworth Royals came roaring back.

Vincenzo Nardulli from 30 yards out, followed by fullback Luca Brown from eight yards out scored majors off of Handsworth turnovers, and Notre Dame led 26-14, owning all of the momentum as the third quarter turned into the fourth.

Handworth (2-3), however, was just beginning to find itself.

A 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Birch-Jones to Ethan McCullagh-Rabiner, was followed by the Justin Lefevre show. Lefevre not only recovered the enusing on-side kick, he later capped the drive with a game-winning 12-yard TD reception from Birch-Jones, the latter finishing his day by going 12-of-19 passes for 171 yards and three  touchdowns. Birch-Jones also rushed five times for 51 yards.

Robert Lutman pounded in the two-point convert to give the home side a three-point lead it would no relinquish the rest of the way.

“The great thing about football is that it is a metaphor for life,” said Royals’ head coach Darren Benning. “When things don’t go your way, you can either lie down and give up or pick yourself up and get back to work.”

Notre Dame had taken the lead in the third quarter after having been down 14-12 at the half.

The game started with the Jugglers marching the ball for a touchdown on their opening possession, mainly on the running of Nardulli. Fullback Brown scored the touchdown from a yard out. The conversion attempt was no good and the score was 6-0 Notre Dame.

Handsworth responded with a touchdown drive of their own and a successful conversion kick made it 7-6 Royals.

Another successful drive by Notre Dame was capped by a five-yard Nardulli touchdown run and a 12-7 Notre Dame lead.

“Full marks to Handsworth for maintaining their focus and scoring those two fourth-quarter touchdowns,” said Notre Dame head coach Denis Kelly. “We played well at times but were far too inconsistent, took too many penalties and turned the ball over too many times.”

After a back-and-forth first half, the home side took a 14-12 lead at the break on a 15 yard touchdown run by Robert Lutman and a 55 yard touchdown catch and run by Ethan McCullagh-Rabiner.

On the day, Handsworth’s Lutman had 103 yards rushing on 19 carries and 41 yards receiving on three catches. McCullagh-Rabiner had three catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns.

The defence was led by Jack Waltz with 11 tackles and a sack while Shahan Djavadi had nine tackles. Michael Dinoto and AJ Crookshank each had critical interceptions.

Lucas Eisner and Jacob Castley were solid in two-way roles along the line.



SURREY — The visiting Centaurs (0-5) fumbled on their opening possession, leading to a touchdown by the host Panthers (4-1) who never looked back the rest of the way.

As part of a rushing attacking which churned 31 carries into 325 yards, Tremel States-Jones led the way, rushing 13 times for 163 yards and two scores. Noah Anderson carried 10 times for 95 yards and three touchdowns. Key’shawn Dorsey, Avery Lilley and Rhys Huston each scored one touchdown apiece.

“We were impressed with the physical effort from all our team this afternoon,” said LT offensive coordinator Nick Kawaza. “We were happy to see all players dressed contribute. We give credit to Centennial for playing hard and fighting to the end.”

Defensively, stellar play from Terrell Jones, Liam Harrison, and Kyle Dodd helped keep Centennial off the scoreboard. 

“Unfortunately, turnovers got the best of us all game,” said Centaurs’ head coach Dino Geremia, who nonetheless got a look at how effective Cole Kashino was both in the backfield and in the return game, and saw the fight in Zac Wawry on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

“We definitely saw some positives to build on, however we must take care of the football,” reiterated Geremia. “We will all have to review our performances and get back to work with a concentrated effort to get better.”



NANAIMO — One of football’s most revealing qualities is being able to chart the snap-by-snap happenings of a momentum swing which winds up defining a game.

On Friday in the Hub City, just such a time occurred in the third quarter.

Taking a 14-13 lead into the second half, the host Islanders had a 64-yard drive snuffed at the opposition one-yard line by Surrey’s visiting Mariners.

Earl Marriott then proceeded to score on a 99-yard run that encompassed the remainder of the third and the early stages of the fourth to lead 19-14, then would add another score to lead 25-14 en route to the victory.

“Our key defensive goal-line stop with Michael Ficken and our interior line was huge for us, especially when we marched down the field to pick up a key touchdown,” admitted EMS head coach Michael Mackay-Dunn.

“We made some adjustments and our guys showed some resolve in a gritty win against a well-coached team,” he added.

Quarterback Sam La Roue led the way, going 15-of-27 for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Isaiah Edwards and one to Dean Meurrens.

La Roue also rushed 21 times for a sizzling 239 yards, scoring majors on runs of one yard and 58 yards.

Byron Ruvalcaba led the way on defence with 12 tackles and Yousouf Berete with 10.

Rohun Purewal, Erich Mueller, Dylan Baker and Curtis Fenwick all recovered fumbles and Dylan Weichler was outstanding on special teams.

“It was a battle and frankly, we’re glad we don’t face the double-wing every week,” added Mackay-Dunn.

The Islanders jumped out to a 14-0 lead as halfback Daniel Hall scored on a 24-yard run, and fullback Noah Storm later on a three-yard run.

The Isles’ Sal Raap-Kopiyka retuned a kickoff 95 yards for a score to pull his team to within 25-22, however that was as close as Nanaimo District would get.

Raap-Kopiyka also rushed eight time for 54 yards, while on defence outside backer Jason Depka, free safety Aidan Kozubal and tackle Cameron Gregory all registered five tackles apiece.

“Marriott is so explosive and with the score so close for the entire game it was just something else to witness,” said NDSS coach Nate Stevenson. “We had our chances and the double wing was grinding it up but we just came up short in those moments of need. Our defense played sound, but big plays helped move the ball for the Mariners.”


ABBOTSFORD — Tyran Duval thrived as the conductor, and Isaak Whitmey made the most of his touches Friday as Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks kept hopes of an undefeated Pacific Conference season in tact with a dramatic home-field win over Kelowna’s Mt. Boucherie Bears.

After Mt. Boucherie scored a touchdown but failed on its two-point convert to pull within 34-32 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks’ defence came up with its biggest stop of the game.

Balraj Dhaliwal then recovered an onside kick, leading to a no-holds barred drive in which Duval called his own number on a 42-yard keeper to the Bears’ 10-yard line . From there Whitmey churned his way to the end zone with 50 seconds remaining.

Duval aided his own cause by making a pick to seal the victory which pushes Mouat’s record to 4-0 ahead of its clash with 4-0 Rutland this coming week.

“Coach Todhunter had a great game plan for our offence this week,” Mouat head coach Andrew Harder said of offensive coordinator Kye Todhunter’s schemes, “and with Tyran Duval leading our offence we were able to move the ball up and down the field. I thought it was a heck of a game by our nose tackle Newton Mangana (11 tackles, one sack). “He was the rock in the middle of our defence.  Proud of this group of guys for answering the bell for a third week in a row against some tough competition.”

Mouat opened the game by taking a quick 14-0 lead as Duval found both Seth Young and Keenan Baker with TD strikes, however Mt. Boucherie responded with a steady dose of smash-mouth football and three straight majors of their own to take a 20-14 lead.

Whitmey, however, who only carried twice on the ball game, yet still topped 50 yards rushing, broke a long one and gave his team a 21-20 halftime lead.

Duval went 16-of-25 for 208 yards and three touchdowns, including one to Dhag Mora who caught five passes for 91 yards.


VANCOUVER — The staples of good offence and good defence never grow old, and the host Griffins (2-0) are seeing the benefits first hand.

Hot on the heels of its 26-20 win last week over Mt Boucherie, Eric Hamber won back-to-back conference games for the first time ever at Triple A, blanking Surrey’s winless, second-year Stars.

“The game plan offensively today was to build off last week’s success and continue to establish the run,” said Hamber head coach Bobby Gibson. “On defence, it was to get more bodies to the ball consistently and to be sure tacklers.”

Griffins’ quarterback Josh Haegert rushed for a pair of scores, and threw touchdown strikes to Ryan Vijayaretnam and Kieran Moore.

A trio of two-point converts, and three safeties from the defence for another six points rounded out their point-scoring bounty.

Jacob Goodwin’s sideline-to-sideline defence led the winners who also got an interception from Martin Chan.




VERNON — Zack Smith helped put the Vernon Panthers firmly in the driver’s seat for yet another conference title.

Smith not only rushed 12 times for 117 yards on Friday as the Panthers (3-0) moved into sole possession of first place in the Interior with a shutout win over the visiting Titans (2-1), he also passed for 85 yards and three touchdowns, and made six tackles and two interceptions to lead the defence.

“South Kam came out aggressive on defence and did a great job all night,” said Panthers head coach Sean Smith. “They gave us all we could handle for four quarters but my guys made big plays when we needed them.”

Trent Charlton was chief among them with his two touchdown grabs.

Caden Danbrook scored a rushing touchdown and Grade 10 Roan Reid had a touchdown catch from Smith for his first senior varsity score.

“With Matthew Reich (Vernon’s top back and tackler) out, we had to have other guys step up,” said coach Smith. “Brady Szeman has a great two-way game up front and collected six tackles, and Liam Reid, fighting off the flu was tough to add five.”

Ethan Greenan added 51 tough yards rushing.

It was a tale of two halves for the Titans on offence.

South Kam struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the first half, amassing only 46 yards of total offence. The second half saw 138 yards of offence and a trip to the red zone.

But the Panthers still shut the door.

Mike MacDonald rushed for 95 yards and Kayden Crawford added 53 more along the ground.

“Vernon is the gold standard of Double-A football and they showed why tonight,” said Titans’ head coach JP Lancaster. “They have ball hawks in the secondary and some stout players up front that made life miserable for us tonight.”



NORTH VANCOUVER — Heading into a bye week ahead of its regular season finale at home to Argyle on Nov. 1, Parksville’s Ballenas Whalers excelled in all facets in what was their final road contest before the post-season.

“I was proud of our guys for coming through and executing our game-plan well in all phases,” said coach Jeremy Conn after Ballenas (2-0) blanked the host Dukes (0-1). “We are looking forward to the bye week for a chance to get 100 per cent healthy.”

Once again, Whalers’ quarterback Ben Chomolok and running back Demar Hohnstein keyed the offence.

Chomolok went 9-of-13 for 177 yards, including a touchdown to Bruce McCabe, while Hohnstein carried 12 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Nathan Robinson led the pass-catching core with three catches for 59 yards. Chomolok and Friesen counted five  tackles apiece.



NANAIMO — The host Bulldogs were at their defensive best on Friday, setting a tone which head coach Rob Stevenson hoops will carry through the upcoming bye week and into its Western Conference season finale against Windsor on Nov. 1.

“A great day for a smothering John Barsby defence,” acknowledged the head coach after limiting Surrey’s visiting Crusaders to just a pair of points off a safety.

“We did not allow an offensive score and played some great physical ball,” he added of forcing four turnovers and a safety.

Inside backer Garrett MacAulliffe led the team with seven tackles and an interception, while outside linebacker Landon Wilson managed a fourth-quarter interception wrestling the ball away from a Crusaders’ receiver in the air.

Defensive end Kaden Browne had a sack and a safety and tackle Josh Wakely recovered two fumbles.

“The guys really rallied to the ball today and kept us in the game from the first snap,” Stevenson added. “Offensively we took four scores off the board with penalties and disrupted a couple of key drives with bad snaps. We just are not good enough to think we can win and play with such a lack of mental focus. Practices are going to get dialled up from here on out. Special teams were difference makers and we flipped the field all day. That was a big positive.”


WEST VANCOUVER — Trailing 13-7 at the half, the West Vancouver Highlanders got some validation for the grit they have down deep, rallying to beat Vernon’s visiting Maroons in exhibition play.

In the fourth quarter, a long touchdown drive orchestrated by freshman quarterback Mattheiu Theil, followed by a long catch-and-run score by Nolan Zen put the Highlanders ahead in the final minutes of a game ultimately sealed by Jay Armitage interception.

“The way that Clarence Fulton was applying pressure on our quarterback, along with the way we struggled to contain the misdirection in their running attack were our big hurdles in the first half,” said West Van head coach Dave Hollinshead. “I challenged the team at halftime and they responded well. After the all the adversity our guys have gone through it feels good to get them a hard-fought win.”

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