Big plays put Bulldogs in semifinals

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity football team defeated the Seaquam Seahawks 27-24 on Saturday at Merle Logan Field.

Barsby Bulldogs players Tyler Hill

Barsby Bulldogs players Tyler Hill

The Barsby Bulldogs not only won a playoff football game, they found an identity at the same time.

“We’re a bunch of scrappers,” said Rob Stevenson, the team’s coach. “We won’t quit and we don’t mind the taste of our own blood.”

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity football team defeated the Seaquam Seahawks 27-24 on Saturday at Merle Logan Field to advance to the provincial semifinals.

“All of us were dead after the game. We had left our whole body on that field,” said Cole Virtanen, Bulldogs running back.

The Seahawks put up much more of a fight than expected against the favoured ’Dawgs. Barsby needed a late touchdown to surge ahead, then a defensive stop to protect its margin of victory.

“We rallied together,” Virtanen said. “As a team, we were able to focus for one goal. We all knew what we needed to do, so we just got it done.”

The coach liked how his players were able to handle the game’s momentum swings and bounce back up on their feet.

“We didn’t falter; we stayed true to ourselves, who we are, how we play…” Stevenson said. “We were able to execute the plays that we run over and over and over again at 6 a.m. It took us down to the endzone and we got in there and defensively we held on on their last drive.”

Virtanen scored the game-winning touchdown, his third rushing major of the afternoon. Chris DeGoutiere had Barsby’s other TD, a 60-yard reception from North Rainey. Both Virtanen and Trentyn Anderson finished with over 130 rushing yards.

Defensively, Virtanen had 13 tackles and Parker Bowles had 12. DeGoutiere and Tyler Hill came up with interceptions.

GAME ON … The victory sets up a semifinal matchup with the Vernon Panthers on Saturday (Nov. 29) at 1 p.m. at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium. For more on the matchup, please pick up Thursday’s issue of the News Bulletin. Barsby is organizing a fan bus; for more information or to reserve a seat, please stop by the school office.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com