Over the first month of the high school football season, the Rick Hansen Hurricanes have offered conclusive proof that they can play a little defence.
Or more to the point, a lot of defence.
On Friday, the Hurricanes blanked the G.W. Graham Grizzlies 23-0 on the road in Chilliwack, marking the second consecutive shutout victory for B.C.’s No. 5-ranked AA squad. The previous week, Hansen beat the Robert Bateman Timberwolves 16-0.
“I think the secret’s out that we’ve got a pretty strong defence and we’re going to make it pretty hard for other teams to score,” Hurricanes head coach Paul Gill said. “Our kids are pretty physical, and we’ve got some great speed.”
Hansen’s defensive success is spearheaded by a quartet of players, and they all had terrific outings on Friday. Twin brothers Brandon (nine tackles, two sacks) and Alex Ho (six tackles) excelled from their linebacking spots, as did safety Zach Toews (nine tackles) and lineman Shaiheem Charles-Brown (seven tackles).
The Hurricanes’ offence, not to be outdone, had a great game in its own right, racking up 485 yards of total offence. Alex Ho completed 14-of-20 passes for 230 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, while Devin DaCosta (20 carries, 175 yards) and Brandon Ho (five carries, 60 yards, one TD) had big games running the ball. Vishal Toor rounded out the Hansen scoring with a field goal.
The only issue with the performance, from Gill’s perspective, is that his charges managed to rack up 100 yards in penalties in the first half, which kept the score closer than he felt it could have been.
“I had a couple things to say to the boys after that,” Gill said with a wry chuckle, alluding to the penalties.
BATEMAN 35, SAMUEL ROBERTS TECHNICAL 0
The Robert Bateman Timberwolves, coming off the deflating loss to Hansen the week before, took out their frustrations on the Samuel Roberts Technical Titans in Maple Ridge on Friday.
The T-Wolves could do little wrong offensively, despite the fact that their top quarterback and receiver were switching places. Tanner Friesen, Bateman’s usual pivot, suffered a shoulder injury vs. Hansen that prevented him from putting much zip on his throws, so he moved over to wideout in favour of Daniel Mills.
The pitch-and-catch combo worked quite well in reverse – Mills threw for 238 yards and three TDs, including two to Friesen.
Ben Cummings caught Mills’s other scoring pass, and added 150 rushing yards and two more majors on the ground.
Jake Thiel led a flawless defensive performance with three sacks.
“The boys were on,” noted Rick MacDonald, who co-ordinates the Bateman senior and junior football programs. “They were fired up, and they played with a lot of heart.”
LORD TWEEDSMUIR 31, W.J. MOUAT 20
Playing in soggy conditions in Surrey, the W.J. Mouat Hawks’ inability to hang onto the pigskin paved the way for their first loss of the season.
The Hawks coughed up seven turnovers, including an uncharacteristic four fumbles by star running back Maleek Irons, en route to defeat in a match-up of top AAA teams. Mouat came in ranked No. 3, while Tweedsmuir was No. 5.
“We were sloppy with the ball, but they were full marks for the win,” Hawks coach Denis Kelly said. “They were more physical than we were, and they adapted to the field conditions better than we did.”
While playing in the rain made hanging onto the ball trickier, Kelly was quick to note that Tweedsmuir didn’t turn the ball over even once.
“They didn’t have any trouble with it, so there was no reason we should have an excuse,” he noted. “We’ve got to clean that up.”
Irons managed 115 rushing yards on 21 carries with a pair of TDs, while QB Hunter Struthers completed 13-of-25 passes for 208 yards, including a 30-yard scoring strike to Manpreet Chhina.
PITT MEADOWS 28, ABBY SENIOR 0
The Abbotsford Senior Panthers held the official grand opening of their new artificial turf field prior to Friday’s game, but the Pitt Meadows Marauders ended up spoiling the party behind their big, physical defence.
“We knew from looking at the film of Pitt from the Mission game (last week) that they were big up front on defence,” Panthers coach Jay Fujimura noted. “They really rely a lot on their front four, and they’re really good.
“We tried to spread them out a little bit and hit some things on the edges.”
The Panthers had some success with that approach in the first half, but weren’t able to get into the end zone. One deep pass came within inches of connecting, and another potential TD was wiped out due to a penalty.
Pitt’s lead was a slender 7-0 at halftime, but they boosted the margin after the break by taking advantage of a couple of Abby turnovers.
Panthers running back Grayson Marquardt exceeded the 100-yard plateau, while middle linebacker Pranav Araya racked up 10 tackles.
• In varsity football action week, Hansen takes on the Langley Saints at home in front of their student body at 1 p.m. Friday, while Bateman hosts G.W. Graham (3 p.m.) and Abby Senior visit Mission (2 p.m.).
On Friday evening, Mouat faces another tough challenge as the AAA No. 2-ranked Terry Fox Ravens visit Mouat Field (7:30 p.m.).