Abbotsford Panthers post playoff win

Football team takes on New Westminster on Saturday at BC Place

Panthers defenders wrap up a Tweedsmuir player during BC high school football playoff action on Friday.

The transition from regular season to playoffs proved to be no big issue for Abbotsford Panthers running back Samwel Uko.

The Grade 11 student continued his dream season in Cloverdale against the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers on Friday, and he set the tone early.

Uko scored touchdowns for 70 and 60-plus yards on Abbotsford’s first two possessions to pace the team to a 41-19 win in round one of the B.C. high school football’s AAA playoffs.

He collected 380 yards rushing and crossed the end zone four times in the win.

“The offensive line worked really hard on making holes for me today,” he said. “And when they started blitzing us we began throwing more. Reese [Morrison] had a nice catch and Tanner [Marquardt] had an amazing touchdown. This game was fantastic for us.”

Abbotsford’s big win was a ray of sunshine in what has been a dark November for the school.

Uko said the recent tragedy has weighed heavily on the minds of his teammates, and they wanted this game badly.

“We came out here today and we played … for Letisha [Reimer],” he said, of the teen who was killed on school grounds earlier this month. “She’s up in heaven looking down at us and we did this for her.”

Tweedsmuir added a major in between Uko’s first two scores, and that was followed up by Marquardt’s 75- yard catch from quarterback John Madigan in the second quarter.

Madigan connected with Morrison the next drive, but Tweedsmuir scored late in the second quarter to close the gap to 26-13 after the first half.

Uko started the second half the same way he did the first, with another pair of touchdowns to put Abbotsford up 41-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Tweedsmuir added a late touchdown to reach the 41-19 final score.

Abbotsford head coach Jay Fujimura said he was proud the way his team reacted to what has been a challenging month.

“Last week we didn’t practice at all, but had a lot of talks as a team,” he said. “Everyone was really tired and out of their routine, but I’m really proud of how they were able to deal with everything this week and last.”

He said the support from the community of Abbotsford and other communities following the incident at the high school meant a lot to the team and the school.

“All the messages and support has really helped us and helped the school as a whole move forward,” he said. “This is bigger than football, and we really appreciate it. It’s been so nice to have the time and support from so many people, it’s been really amazing.”

Fujimura said Friday’s game plan worked to a tee, with the run established early and opening up opportunities in the passing game.

Abbotsford next takes on the New Westminster Hyacks in the quarterfinals. The game occurs under the lights of BC Place on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

In other local high school football news, the AAA season is over for the W.J. Mouat Hawks, as they fell 52-7 to the Mt. Douglas Rams in Victoria.

The Hawks fell behind 7-0 early, but star running back Nelson Lokombo tied the game up moments later. That was as close as the Hawks got.

Lokombo finished with 133 yards rushing, while quarterback Alex Howson threw for 80 yards. Linebacker Robert Bradley had a team-high five tackles in the loss.

In AA action, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves were also eliminated after a 26-8 loss to the Seaquam Seahawks in Burnaby.

Bateman had an 8-0 lead early after Braeden Verleur rushed in a touchdown, but they couldn’t hold on. The Seahawks tied the game late in the first half, and took over in the second half.

Linebacker Dawson Davis recorded 13 tackles to lead Bateman defensively, while quarterback Aiden McDonald picked up 94 yards rushing in a losing cause.

Playoffs are also over for the local junior varsity teams, as Bateman lost 27-8 to Nanaimo on Nov. 9, and Abbotsford Senior fell 28-0 to Handsworth on Nov. 10.

In Grade 8 football action, the Abbotsford Middle School Huskies were eliminated from the AA playoffs after losing 24-18 to Pitt Meadows on Monday.

For more on all the games, visit bchighschoolfotball.com.

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