The peewee Cowichan Bulldogs celebrate their silver medal win at the Island championships. (Jen Laver photo)

The peewee Cowichan Bulldogs celebrate their silver medal win at the Island championships. (Jen Laver photo)

Peewee Cowichan Bulldogs take Island silver

9-man football provincials still to come for ‘Dogs

The peewee Cowichan Bulldogs’ quest for an Island football championship fell just short, but their season isn’t over yet.

The Bulldogs lost 32-13 to the Westshore Warriors in their 12-man league final at Nanaimo District Secondary School last Saturday, but the team can now focus on winning the provincial nine-man championship later this fall.

Cowichan coach Trystan Ryder lauded his team’s performance in the Island final.

“Our team played their hearts out and really battled hard,” he said. “Our offence was able to march the ball down the field consistently, but had difficulty finishing drives.”

The offence got big plays from running backs Brolin Hastings and Mica Kendrick, with Hastings scoring one of Cowichan’s two touchdowns.

“Neither of these talented players are the biggest on the field, but the size of their heart and will to succeed are immeasurable,” Ryder commented.

Even with the season winding down, the Bulldogs’ passing game continues to make big steps, and quarterback Gus Steeves completed six of eight passing attempts, spreading the ball around the entire receiving corps. Cole Tokarek and Rhys McKelvie had receptions for first downs, and Atlas Ryder caught a pass and ran another 15 yards for a touchdown.

Westshore was able to run the ball on sweeps and pick up points early against the Cowichan defence. Linebackers McKelvie, Marshall Johnson and Aylin Canning all had strong games, shutting down the Warriors’ inside running attack.

“We are a strong defence up the middle,” Ryder said. “But protecting the outside has been our Achilles heel on defence all season.”

The Cowichan coach acknowledged Westshore’s strong performance.

”It wasn’t our day,” Ryder allowed. “Hats off to Westshore for a great game and an outstanding season. Although we lost this game, we won second place, which is a huge accomplishment. This team is a special group, and the future looks very bright for Cowichan Football.”

As the second-place team in their league, and with Westshore choosing to compete in the provincial 12-man finals because of their large roster, the Bulldogs have earned the chance to represent Vancouver Island in the B.C. nine-man championship tournament, tentatively set for Dec. 4.

”Our team is ready, and looking forward to representing Cowichan Football and Vancouver Island with pride,” Ryder said.

The bantam Cowichan Bulldogs, meanwhile, will head to Langley on Dec. 5 for a one-game showdown against Meadow Ridge for the league and provincial titles.