In the preseason, Rick Hansen Hurricanes football coach Paul Gill felt that his team, unmentioned in the provincial AA rankings, was rather underrated.
After Friday’s 27-16 victory over the Robert Bateman Timberwolves, they won’t be flying under the radar anymore.
“I think we’ve opened some eyes up now,” Gill said afterward. “They’re the No. 4-ranked team in the province. Our kids have been working hard, and it’s a big win.”
It was the Eastern Conference regular season opener for both teams, and Alex and Brandon Ho, the Hurricanes’ Grade 11 twin brothers, led the charge. Brandon, from his linebacking spot, scored a touchdown on a 25-yard interception return. Quarterback Alex threw a 50-yard TD pass to Zach Toews and also rushed for a major.
Running back Reagan Doucette rounded out the Hansen scoring with a rushing TD of his own.
As for the T-Wolves, they were simply decimated by the injury bug. Each of their top three running backs – Ben Cummings, John Beckerleg and Cole Brien – were knocked out of the game by halftime.
“They’re a huge part of our offence, and our defence,” Bateman head coach Alfred Brathwaite said, noting that the three play on both sides of the ball. “All week we’ve been working on a game plan, and then you have to change game plans at the end of the first quarter.
“But you know, the kids still managed to reach deep into themselves and play with heart. Kudos to them.”
Beckerleg, prior to re-aggravating a knee injury, scampered for a 37-yard TD run. Kole Lochbaum booted a field goal, and Tanner Friesen added an interception-return major late in the fourth quarter.
Hansen is undefeated at 3-0, while Bateman falls to 2-2.
ST. THOMAS MORE 32, MOUAT 28
Turns out, the W.J. Mouat Hawks’ high-octane offence can be stopped, or at least slowed.
Turnovers were the AAA No. 2-ranked Hawks’ kryptonite on Friday evening, as they suffered a stunning loss to the No. 4 Knights.
Mouat coughed up the ball six times – four fumbles, two interceptions – but they still found themselves up 10 points with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
STM rallied, though. First, they parlayed a long kick return into a touchdown. Then, they recovered an onside kick. Finally, quarterback Chase Malcolm connected with Giovanni Trasolini on a deep TD pass to complete the comeback.
“We’d defeated them fairly handily in the springtime, and maybe that had an influence on our guys,” Hawks coach Denis Kelly analyzed. “The lesson learned is, don’t take anybody for granted, especially a team like St. Thomas More that’s ranked pretty highly. You have to go out and prove yourself every week.”
Quarterback Mario Narte rushed for two scores for Mouat, while star tailback Maleek Irons was limited by the Knights to just 75 rush yards and one TD on 17 carries. Crysthian Rivas, with a 20-yard INT return, rounded out the Mouat scoring.
LANGLEY 20, ABBY SENIOR 18
The Saints edged the Panthers in an absolutely wild triple-overtime contest.
The two teams battled to a scoreless draw during regulation time, with Abby Senior getting a terrific performance from Cody Follett. He had over 100 yards receiving and made to interceptions on defence, including a game-saving pick with Langley driving inside the red zone late in the fourth quarter.
In OT, teams alternate possessions, starting on the 10 yard line, until the tie is broken. The teams traded TDs three times – Mansa Mandagi and Carter Williams rushing for majors for the Panthers, and Williams throwing a scoring pass to Bryce Wiebe.
Converts were ultimately the difference. On the first two possessions, the Panthers missed their kick for a single point, but managed to block the Saints’ kick both times.
On the third OT possession, the rules dictate that teams must go for a two-point convert. The Panthers came up short of the end zone on their convert, while the Saints punched the ball in to seal the win.
“That was a tough one,” Panthers coach Jay Fujimura said. “We went back and forth the whole game. We made some big plays (during regulation), but we weren’t able to capitalize by scoring.”
HAWKS LOOK TO GET BACK ON TRACK VS. RAMS
Mouat’s loss takes some of the lustre off this week’s match-up with the No. 1-ranked Mount Douglas Rams. The two teams met in last year’s AAA provincial championship game, with Mount Doug winning 42-35, and they renew hostilities on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mouat Field.
All three AA squads play at 3 p.m. on Friday. Abby Senior hosts the defending B.C. champ Mission Roadrunners at Rotary Stadium, and Bateman hosts Pitt Meadows. Hansen hits the road to play the Langley Saints at McLeod Athletic Park.