In the wake of the Mission Roadrunners’ stunning 22-15 win over the W.J. Mouat Hawks on Friday, Hawks head coach Denis Kelly paid the victors a heady compliment.
“They could play at the AAA level any time,” Kelly said. “They’re legitimate.”
Friday’s game, played before an enthusiastic crowd at Mouat Field, was a fascinating match-up between teams who both came in ranked No. 2 in the province – the Hawks in AAA, and the Roadrunners in AA.
In one fell swoop, Mission validated the level of play on the small-school circuit, and picked up what head coach Kevin Watrin called the biggest win in the nine-year history of senior varsity football at the school.
“Last year, we had a really exciting quarter-final victory in the snow against Seaquam,” he noted. “But I think this probably tops it slightly. It was an exhibition game, but it was against a fantastic program and a great coaching staff.”
The Hawks led 12-7 at the half, finding the end zone on a 30-yard screen pass from Daniel Markin to Devin Logan, and on a one-yard QB sneak by Markin.
But the Roadrunners rallied to tie the game 15-15, and then got the game-winning TD with 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Kevin Wiens hit Hadley Gwyn for a 22-yard major.
The victory carried a bit of added significance for Watrin, who served as a Hawks assistant coach while student teaching at Mouat in 1995.
“It’s pleasing and satisfying,” he said when Kelly’s words of praise were relayed to him. “There’s been a number of us who have been around for the nine years and put in a lot of long hours. In many ways, it’s a cumulative experience with all the boys right through the program.”
HURRICANES FALL SHORT
The injury bug bit the Rick Hansen Hurricanes hard on Friday, as they dropped a 28-24 decision to Mount Boucherie of Kelowna.
Already missing star running back/linebacker Jordon Gmur, the Hurricanes saw quarterback Alex Ho and receiver/safety Daniel Okello go down in the first half.
Nevertheless, Hansen nearly battled all the way back from a 24-12 deficit, only to fall short after a pair of two-point convert attempts failed.
Harpreet Dhaliwal had a huge game for the Hurricanes, rushing for three TDs, while Sukh Dhaliwal caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Ho in the first quarter.
“Our kids did a great job of hanging in there and giving us a chance to win,” head coach Paul Gill noted.
Ho, the Hurricanes’ Grade 10 starting pivot, suffered a broken kneecap on a seemingly innocent tackle. Gill said the injury could potentially be season-ending, and Ho is seeing a specialist this week.
T-WOLVES WILL TAKE IT
The Robert Bateman Timberwolves were the lone local team to win on the weekend, edging Nanaimo District 19-14 at home on Friday.
But T-Wolves coach Rick MacDonald termed it an “ugly” victory.
“The buys actually didn’t leave the field that happy,” he said. “They know we’re capable of much better.
“We were just a little sloppy, shot ourselves in the foot a few times. We’re not overly proud of it, but we’ll take it.”
Freddy Lyhne rushed for two majors for Bateman, while John Beckerleg also found the end zone in the win.
BULLDOGS BITE PANTHERS
The Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers found themselves in tough in their season opener at Rotary Stadium, as they dropped a 42-7 decision to the province’s No. 1-ranked AA squad, the John Barsby Bulldogs.
But Panthers head coach Jay Fujimura said his players had nothing to hang their heads about. Abby Collegiate played the Bulldogs extremely tough in the first half – they trailed 14-7 late in the second quarter, but Barsby’s Nathan Berg scored a kickoff-return TD that proved to be the turning point.
“They’re a big, strong, physical team,” Fujimura said. “We knew that coming in, but we wanted to get that game for our guys so they know where they need to get to for the end of the season.”
Michael Nguyen scored the Panthers’ lone TD on a seven-yard run, while the quarterback/receiver duo of Carter Williams and Dallas Yassinsky demonstrated great chemistry. Tanner Storoshenko, who plays both ways as a fullback and linebacker, was named the Panthers’ player of the game.
Abbotsford’s senior football teams will be road warriors this weekend, as all four squads play away from home on Friday. Mouat heads to North Vancouver to play Carson Graham (3:45 p.m., Carson Graham Secondary), while Hansen hits the road to face Langley (1 p.m., McLeod Athletic Park). Bateman takes on Hugh Boyd in Richmond (3 p.m., Hugh Boyd Secondary), while Abby Collegiate visits Moscrop of Burnaby (3:30 p.m., Burnaby Lakes).