The junior bantam Cowichan Bulldogs didn’t miss a beat during their two-week hiatus, picking up where they left off with a 51-6 victory at home over the Westshore Warriors last Saturday.
The Bulldogs controlled the game on both sides of the ball, scoring on their first two possessions and running away with the game from there.
“Westshore came in with a small roster but a whole lot of heart,” Shea said. “The score doesn’t really indicate how well the Warriors played today. We came into the weekend not having played a game as a complete team for a couple of weeks, and it showed. We were sloppy and out of sync. The athletes have a lot of pride and they recognize when things aren’t clicking; they felt it today. We are happy with the result, we just have to focus on how we’re getting there. This is an amazing group of athletes who are dedicated to the process of getting better.”
Jesse Kwasny got the start at quarterback and Laine Hogstead lined up at running back, which coach Shea felt would give the players a chance to demonstrate their skill and development. Kwasny dealt well with the pressure, completing several passes and scoring on two scrambles. First-year player Hogstead showed once again that he is a threat everywhere on the field, and ran for three touchdowns. The scoring was rounded out with a touchdown reception by Gregor MacKenzie and a remarkably long run by Finn Shea.
The Cowichan defence was nearly perfect, giving up just one touchdown on a long run by Warriors speedster Harrison Pinnell who fended off several Bulldogs tacklers on his way to the end zone. Gavin Kendrick made his first start at linebacker for the Bulldogs and led the way with several huge tackles.
The peewee Bulldogs lost 27-16 to Westshore on Saturday, but were coming off their best game of the season, a 34-20 win over the Saanich Wolverines at McAdam Park a week earlier.
“We finally played four quarters of football,” peewee head coach Opie Williams said of his team’s first victory of 2018. “We had a great game and dominated the second half. It was an exciting game for our fans in the first half.”
The coaches used an old cheer from the movie The Longest Yard to get their players fired up: “Mean Machine! Mean Machine! Mean Machine!”
The Bulldogs got on the board on their second offensive play, as Isaac Keepence smashed his way through the Saanich defence for a 65-yard touchdown, with Bradley MacRae adding the extra point. The Wolverines returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but when the Bulldogs got the ball back, Cody Williams ran 75-yards to restore the Cowichan lead.
Saanich tied the score again, and the teams traded touchdowns again before the half was over, the Bulldogs getting to the five-yard line on big runs by Keepence and Ryder Maertz before Cody Williams scored his second major of the game. The teams went to the locker room tied at 20-20.
The second half was all Cowichan as the Bulldogs defence shut down the Wolverines offence. Cody Williams gave his team the lead for good when he returned a punt 35 yards to score. A methodical march down the field led to Cody Williams’s fourth touchdown of the game behind the blocking of Bradley MacRae, Danver Baumen, Matteo Breckenridge, Sebastian Tait and Brodyn Mortimer.
Keepence finished with 122 yards on 10 carries, while Williams had 143 yards on 11 carries, and Maertz had 44 yards on 10 carries.
“Issac did an impressive job moving into the fullback position, pounding the ball up the heart of the Wolverines defence,” coach Williams said.
Maertz led the defence with four tackles and two assists, while Aiden Muth added two tackles. Jordan Buscaino made a huge tackle late in the fourth quarter to preserve Cowichan’s lead, and Cody Williams had the hit of the game on the final play.
The atom, peewee and junior bantam Bulldogs will all travel to Westhills Stadium this Saturday to wrap up the regular season against the Saanich Wolverines.