The Robert Bateman Timberwolves senior varsity football team has advanced to the AA provincial final.
They will return to BC Place – the scene of the 2021 championship final and a heartbreaking 40-38 overtime loss – after defeating the College Heights Cougars 21-7 in the AA semifinal on Saturday (Nov. 26).
But despite the relatively comfortable win, the victory wasn’t without its warts. Bateman turned the ball over on the game’s opening kickoff, but the team’s defence continued its dominant play and managed to stifle the Cougars offensively and ended that drive after Colby Johnson grabbed an interception.
And they fumbled the opening kickoff so maybe they weren’t ready (just kidding, sort of)
— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) November 26, 2022
The ensuing drive saw quarterback Nolan Watrin connect on an approximately 60-yard touchdown to get into the red zone and then AJ Nguyen grabbed the game’s first major to put the Timberwolves up 7-0.
After a four and out by the Bateman defence, running back Micah Barker made it 14-0 on the next drive. College Heights managed to get a first down on the next drive by the Bateman defence then turned the ball over on downs.
The Timberwolves then threw an interception and the Cougars managed to drive deep into the Bateman territory, but a Hugh Clifford sack forced another four and out for College Heights and Bateman led 14-0 at halftime.
The Cougars opening drive saw an incredible catch by a College Heights receiver at the one yard line. The Bateman defence held for three downs but the Cougars got on the board on the fourth attempt to make it a 14-7 game in the third quarter.
The Timberwolves offence responded in a big way on the next drive and marched all the way to the end zone when Taejshon Catlin scored with a rushing touchdown to make it 21-7. A threatening Cougars offensive drive was then shut down after an interception by Owen Buchanan and the offence slowed the game down, controlled the clock and the score finished at 21-7.
AA Varsity: Robert Bateman 21 at College Heights 7 https://t.co/A5siw7paC5
— BC HS Football (@BCHSFB) November 26, 2022
Defensive and offensive line stalwart Logan Thiessen, who has been the backbone of Bateman’s excellent defence, said it was a rewarding win.
“Overall I thought it was a great team win,” he said. “I think with them coming out of what was probably a weaker conference that sometimes it’s easy to underestimate them but we treat every week like it’s a requirement to play like a number one team because we know they’re practicing to play against one.”
Thiessen said it was a bit of a disappointing start, but noted that the offence set the tone with a touchdown drive after the defence grabbed the ball back. He said the defensive unit this year has been special. Bateman didn’t allow a single points in four games in October and also blanked Sardis in September and Argyle last week in the quarterfinal round.
“It’s pretty easy because everyone has so much experience on this defence,” he said. “Their football IQ is top notch. Everyone has great chemistry and we hold each other accountable.”
He said last year’s crushing defeat is still lingering in the back of the minds of many players.
“That was the whole message this season,” he said. “We’re the comeback team, we are the redeem team from last year. It was in our mind the entire offseason and I don’t think there was a day where we didn’t bring up the 40-38 loss.”
Bateman head coach David Mills said College Heights was a good challenge for his team.
“We made a lot of mistakes and you can’t make those kind of mistakes in the final,” he said. “College Heights was scrappy and I give a ton of credit to those kids.”
The Timberwolves now face the John Barsby Bulldogs in the provincial final on Saturday (Dec. 3) at 4 p.m. inside BC Place. The two teams met in Nanaimo on Sept. 30, with Bateman earning a 38-34 win. Those 34 points are by far the most any team has scored against the Timberwolves this season.