The Rick Hansen Hurricanes revved up for the AA high school football playoffs with an impressive 38-0 win over their crosstown rivals from Abby Senior on Saturday afternoon.
The Hurricanes took advantage of Panther turnovers to build a 30-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, with the Ho brothers leading the way. QB Alex Ho threw touchdown passes to Brad Atkinson and Zach Toews, while his identical twin Brandon rushed for majors of 15 and 20 yards. Hansen also registered a safety during that dominant opening frame.
“We had a really short field the whole first quarter,” noted Hurricanes coach Paul Gill.
“We wanted to make sure we had a good feeling going into the playoffs, and I think we accomplished that today. We played well in all three phases.”
Brandon Ho rounded out the scoring with his third TD run of the day in the fourth quarter, capping an awfully efficient performance – he had 49 rush yards and three TDs on just four carries.
Alex Ho finished 9-of-18 for 230 passing yards, and Toews (five catches, 160 yards) was his favourite target.
“The Ho brothers are really exceptional football players, and really tough to stop,” observed Panthers coach Jay Fujimura.
Abby Senior’s top player on the day was Grade 11 receiver Jordan Goheen, who had seven catches for over 100 yards, plus five tackles, a sack and an interception on defence.
The Panthers will miss the playoff this season, but Fujimura is rightly optimistic about the future. The vast majority of his roster is comprised of Grade 11s, and the Grade 10 team went 7-0 in the hybrid AAA/AA junior conference, with wins over AAA programs Lord Tweedsmuir and W.J. Mouat. They were the only AA school in the province that qualified for AAA provincials under the junior tiering system.
“It was definitely a learning year,” Fujimura acknowledged. “They kind of understand what senior football is like now – it’s a lot different than junior. They know what they need to do to push themselves to the next level.”
MOUAT 38, ST. THOMAS MORE 18
The AAA No. 3-ranked W.J. Mouat Hawks played perhaps their best game of the season on the road in Burnaby, knocking off the No. 5-ranked Knights in decisive fashion and picking up the coveted third seed in the AAA Eastern Conference as a result.
Finishing third in the East was crucial for the Hawks because it puts them on the opposite side of the playoff bracket from the Mount Douglas Rams of Victoria, who are ranked No. 1 and look borderline unbeatable this season.
“It sets us up in a more favourable position,” noted Mouat coach Denis Kelly, whose team hosts the Notre Dame Jugglers in the first round of the playoffs on Friday (7:30 p.m., Mouat Field).
The Hawks leaned heavily on Maleek Irons on Friday – the senior star carried the ball 37 times for 384 yards and three TDs.
QB Hunter Struthers threw a 46-yard scoring pass to Jake Firlotte and ran for a major and a two-point convert, while Adam Coates booted a 32-yard field goal.
Lineman Kieran Testa paced the defence with nine tackles, while Manpreet Chhina (eight tackles), Levi Hua (seven tackles) and Slater McRae (interception) also had big games.
MISSION 51, BATEMAN 27
The Robert Bateman Timberwolves had a shot at finishing first in the AA Eastern Conference – beating the Mission Roadrunners on Friday would have set into motion a complicated points-for, points-against tiebreaker involving a trio of one-loss teams (Bateman, Mission and Hansen).
Mission QB Evan Horton had a monster outing – he rushed for 223 yards and a trio of TDs and also threw a pair of scoring passes to Jesse Walker. Walker racked up 102 receiving yards and added a major on the ground.
The Roadrunners also got an 80-yard kickoff return TD and a 25-yard field goal from Wayde Carpenter.
“We had a clear mission – win the game and win the conference championship,” Mission coach Kevin Watrin noted. “We were excited to wrap up our third conference title in a row and in the history of our program.”
PLAYOFFS KICK OFF THIS WEEK
The high school football playoffs open this coming Friday, and Mouat and Hansen get to play in Abbotsford.
The Hurricanes take on the Windsor Dukes at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Abby Senior’s new turf field, while the Hawks are at home vs. the Notre Dame Jugglers at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Bateman hits the road to play Carson Graham in North Vancouver (3:30 p.m., Friday), while Mission hosts Ballenas at Mouat (1:30 p.m., Saturday).