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Mustangs finish the job
That was the motto of the Langley Mustangs all season long and on Sunday afternoon, the bantam football team took care of business.
The Mustangs controlled the clock offensively with a grueling ground game and used a punishing defensive effort that allowed just one touchdown late in the game as they defeated the North Delta Longhorns 24-7 at McLeod Athletic Park.
The teams were playing in the B.C. Community Football Association championship game.
“It is unreal, an unbelievable feeling,” said Nolan McMurchy, who earned the game’s most valuable player award after rushing for a pair of touchdowns. He also kicked a field goal and was good on two of the three conversion attempts.
“I have been waiting 10 years for this,” he said.
“I almost broke down and cried out there.”
Head coach Keith Pickett has been with this crop of players since they joined the Langley Minor Football ranks as flag players when they were six years old.
The players are now 14 and 15 and over the past few years, have experienced heartbreak.
Four years ago, the team lost on the final play in the provincial final and then a couple of seasons ago, they went 10-0 but lost in the playoffs.’
“We started the season with (the motto) unfinished business,” Pickett said.
“And our goal going into this season — not only to play football — but to be here at provincials in the end.”
The Mustangs opened the scoring late in the first quarter when McMurchy ran in a touchdown from seven yards out. They added another touchdown in the second quarter when McMurchy punched the ball in from one yard out.
McMurchy then scored a single on a missed field goal attempt for the 15-0 halftime lead.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but McMurchy would kick a field goal in the fourth to make it 18-0 and then Wesley Foss scored from one yard out to make it 24-0.
North Delta, which struggled to move the ball against a ferocious Langley defence, broke the shutout bid when Tyler Moxin ran the ball into the end zone from 11 yards out. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, the score came with less than three minutes to play.
The teams had finished one-two in the standings during the Vancouver Mainland Football League regular season with Langley at 10-0 and North Delta at 9-1.
The Longhorns lone loss was a 38-15 defeat at the hands of the Mustangs.
In Sunday’s provincial final, the Mustangs continuously chewed up the clock by grinding out tough yards along the ground.
“We have four running backs that can all get the job done,” Pickett said. “It is a good scenario.”
And the defence made sure the Longhorns — who averaged nearly 26 points a game during the regular season, could not sustain any drives.
“We came out and played a heck of a game,” said defensive lineman Manraj Bains, who led a relentless Mustangs attack that had no problem breaking into the Longhorns’ backfield.
“We just came out and shut them down.”
Bains said the team’s game plan was to keep the North Delta running backs contained from breaking free to the outside and then playing until the whistle.
“It is unbelievable (to win the championship),” he said. “I can’t even explain how happy I am right now. It is probably one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.”
At the start of the year, Bains said the team kept its goals simple.
“The goal was practice hard, play hard, get to the playoff, and from there, out new goal was to get to provincials,” he explained. “We had to go step by step.”
The game was one of four BCCFA finals held at McLeod Athletic Park on Sunday.
In the peewee game, the North Delta Longhorns defeated the Mission Niners 33-0. The South Delta Rams topped the Abbotsford Falcons Black 47-8 in the junior bantam final and the Nanaimo Redmen beat the North Surrey Bears 17-11 in the midget final.
Gary Ahuja/Langley Times
Langley's Nathaniel Murray tackles North Delta's Rahim Richards.