It was a case of “win and you’re in” for the Cowichan peewee Bulldogs on Saturday when they lined up against the Nanaimo Blue Seahawks. A win would vault the Bulldogs into the playoffs, but a loss would end their season.
“Our team was ready and focused to give it their all, and we sure did! Our O-line had to step up as we had a big injury, and they sure did, with Devon Thomas, Josh Dadswell, Hunter Phillips, Emmitt Ryder and Kason Randhawa leading the charge,” said head coach Gino Buscaino. “We also got some great blocks from wide receiver Qais Rasul-Jankovics. We made some adjustments from our previous game, and even though we were missing a few of our key players on both sides of the ball, we gave Blue all they could handle.”
A long touchdown run but failed convert had Nanaimo up 6-0 early but Cowichan responded immediately with a long 55 yard converted touchdown up the sideline by Justin Jack-Thomas.
“We had them on their heels, ahead 6-8 in the first quarter,” Buscaino said. “We had them right where we wanted them.”
The Seahawks rebounded, however, putting a drive together that resulted in a 14-8 lead for Nanaimo.
The Bulldogs’ offence went to work with a 17-yard run by quarterback Gus Steeves and a few reverses with slotback Oaklan Bourelle.
The Seahawks made a big stop in the red zone to hold the Bulldogs from evening the score
“This was a big stop for the Seahawks, which changed the momentum of the game,” Buscaino said.
From there, the Seahawks built up a 30-8 lead.
“We started to fall behind, but never gave up,” Buscaino said. “Our team is resilient and knew anything could happen with full effort. We had some monster tackles from Alexander Erickson, Rylen Heyer, Rylnd Monti, Brayden Hagel, Jack-Thomas and Thomas who also kicked two converts. We had good push up front from Vaughn Williams and Harrison Plaxton.”
Steeves put a big drive together, highlighted with his 35 yard bootleg run, and then he punched it in for another converted touchdown but it wasn’t enough as the undefeated Seahawks notched another victory, this one with a final score of 30-16.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our team, as they played their hearts out right to the final whistle. Now with finishing fifth place overall, it’s unfortunate that we will not make the playoffs this season,” Buscaino explained. “Our team knows we could have made a big run for the cup. We unfortunately had a questionable league decision early in our season which did affect our team vibe and standings — some life lessons were definitely learned by our young players. They gained great football knowledge, long lasting friendships, and we are looking forward to seeing them develop in the future.”