Bantam Bulldogs running back Finn Shea carries the ball into contact during a recent home game at McAdam Park. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Midget Bulldogs win, bantams play to tie in Thanksgiving matinees

Cowichan football teams battle through midseason injuries

The midget Cowichan Bulldogs feasted on Longhorn for Thanksgiving.

The Bulldogs had to travel to the Mainland on holiday Monday to do it, but they got back in the Vancouver Mainland Football League win column with a 23-6 victory over the North Delta Longhorns.

Damian McCuaig-Jones returned to the lineup for the first time since mid-September, and with a bye week and time to recover on the horizon, played through a nagging injury to lead the Cowichan running game with 128 rushing yards and one touchdown.

“Damian ran the ball harder than he has all year,” Cowichan head coach Mike Williams.

Dane Quayle also came up big for the Cowichan offence with four receptions for 50 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point convert, while Dakota Cullum rushed for 49 yards, kicked two converts, and missed a field goal that still netted one point on a rouge.

Fourteen players registered a stat on defence. Williams was particularly pleased with the play of Evan Kwasny, who came back after a week-one injury to contribute four tackles, a sack and an interception. Brooks Branchi had seven tackles, and Dylan Taylor had five tackles and a sack.

“We played very aggressive defence this game,” Williams said. “North Delta has a lot of good athletes, but they’re struggling; they haven’t won a game yet.”

With that in mind, the Bulldogs relied heavily on the blitz, which was usually effective.

“The one score they did have was a deep, about a 70-yard pass-and-run,” Williams said. “We ran a safety blitz, but we didn’t get there in time, so they went over top.”

Brazilian exchange student Richardo Chiaparini contributed on kickoffs and found a place to play on defence as well.

“He kicked the ball deep, which allowed us to put them deep in their own end,” Williams recalled. “He’s got a good, strong leg. We put him in at defensive end as well and he had a good, strong game there as well for not knowing anything about football other than futbol with a ‘U.’”

The Bulldogs will use their bye this weekend to heal up before playing the Victoria Spartans at home on Oct. 21. Sitting at 2-3 with four games left, the Bulldogs want to win enough of their remaining games to avoid finishing fourth and a semifinal showdown with first-place North Langley.

The bantam Bulldogs also travelled to the Mainland on Monday. Missing several starting players, the Bulldogs ended up playing to an unusual 6-6 tie with the Richmond Raiders.

The game went back and forth, with neither team able to put together any offensive drives to speak of.

“Strong runs and passes, by either team, were often negated by either a turnover or a penalty,” coach PJ Shea said. “This odd cycle persisted from the start of the game, to the final whistle.”

On offence, the Bulldogs managed to get some yardage out of quarterback Jesse Kwasny and Finn Shea, but only created one touchdown. Cowichan’s defence was “either feast or famine,” coach Shea said. The feast included four interceptions — one each by Gavin Kendrick and Daylan MacDonald and two by Shea — while the famine included missed tackles and assignments that turned what should have been an easy stop into a big gain for the Raiders.

“The game had an odd feel to it,” Shea said. “It is unfortunate that the score didn’t reflect some of the exceptional moments, and efforts, from some of the athletes. We lacked the ability to finish this weekend, it’s something that we’ll be working on.”

The bantam Bulldogs will visit Comox this weekend.

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