Nanaimo’s dream football final will take place in a junior varsity B.C. championship game.
The Barsby Bulldogs and Nanaimo District Islanders will play each other for a provincial title in the Subway Bowl at B.C. Place stadium next Saturday (Dec. 3).
“It’s exciting,” said Nate Stevenson, NDSS coach. “Not many athletes or teams out there get the opportunity to say they’ve been in a championship game, so we’ve got to focus on that feeling … It’s the journey we’ve taken and where we’re at.”
He said his team is looking forward to the whole week ahead as it prepares for a big game against the perfect opponent.
“It’s going to be something very special for the kids and for the staff, too, and the school; heck, south Nanaimo, Nanaimo, football in town. It’s big,” Stevenson said. “B.C. Ferries is going to have to put an extra sailing on, by the sounds of it.”
The neighbouring schools are only blocks away from each other, the coaches are brothers and many of the athletes played minor football together for years.
“It’s a passionate, hard-fought game that’s going to be played, but we’re going to respect each other, coming and going,” said Rob Stevenson, Barsby coach.
He said the dream final was always in the realm of possibility.
“Is it something at the start of the year you would have thought would happen? No way. It was a fanciful dream,” he said.
The Islanders made it happen by defeating the Samuel Robertson Technical Titans 20-14 in the semifinals Thursday in North Vancouver. The day before, the John Barsby Bulldogs had won their semi 24-8 against the Vernon Panthers in Abbotsford.
Islanders grind out a win
Nanaimo District knocked off a previously undefeated SRT opponent. Stevenson said the tone was set in warmups, as he could tell his players were focused and anxious for opening kickoff. They showed they were ready, scoring two first-half touchdowns to lead 14-0 at half.
“We were grinding on those guys and they didn’t have much coming back at us other than a big play here or there,” Nate Stevenson said.
NDSS pushed its margin to 20-0 before Samuel Robertson struck twice to make it a one-score game. The Titans intercepted a pass late and drove to the Islanders’ 15-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs and NDSS was able to kill the clock.
Finn Bradbrooke scored two rushing touchdowns for Nanaimo District and also led his team’s defence with nine tackles. Carson Bullen scored ND’s other touchdown and running back Kyle Lindsay and the offensive line had an especially strong game.
Barsby’s victory validating
As for Barsby, it was able to beat a Vernon team that it had lost to in the pre-season.
“It was our most complete defensive game of the year. We were very sure tackling, physical, got a lot of people to the football when they did have it in their hands,” Rob Stevenson said.
He said his defenders’ superb coverage had very few breakdowns against a lethal Panthers attack. Offensively, Barsby stuck to a high-percentage, low-risk run game.
“We were getting it in small chunks, but those small chunks kept adding up to first downs,” the coach said.
Kole Postema, Steen Rasmussen and Zach Taylor shared the workload evenly in the backfield and each finished with a rushing TD and a two-point conversion.
Taylor led his team with eight tackles and A.J. Maher had six tackles and a sack. Kaden Browne also had a sack and Mason Scott came up with an interception.
GAME ON … Barsby and NDSS meet in the junior AA varsity B.C. final at the Subway Bowl at B.C. Place stadium on Saturday (Dec. 3). Game time is 11:30 a.m.
Amazing. I’m hearing NDSS won its semifinal 20-14. It will be Barsby vs. Nanaimo District for the B.C. junior varsity football championship.
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) November 24, 2016