Playing for the first time in B.C. Place, the Nanaimo District Islanders were pretty much perfect, and became B.C. champions.
NDSS shut out the Barsby Bulldogs by a 23-0 score on Saturday in the AA junior varsity Subway Bowl title game.
“We definitely proved something,” said Finn Bradbrooke, NDSS quarterback and game MVP. “It felt amazing. Everyone’s feeling amazing.”
Clayton Hennessy, chosen the game’s best back, said he “couldn’t even process it” when time expired and his NDSS Islanders were champions.
“We came so far. We were the underdogs and we came out on top, beat Barsby. It’s something special.”
Hennessy said the Islanders played amazing and said he told his teammates to go 100 per cent every play.
“And they just did their job, they focused; I believed in them and they believed in each other,” he said. “What an opportunity. Once in a lifetime.”
The Islanders set a tone early, recovering a fumble on the Bulldogs’ first possession and although neither team scored in the first quarter, the Isles began to take control of field possession.
Anthony Comas opened the scoring nine minutes into the second quarter on a six-yard touchdown run and Bradbrooke added a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at halftime.
There was no scoring in the third quarter, and midway through the fourth quarter, ND’s Liam Colbourne intercepted a pass that helped set up a four-yard TD run by Bradbrooke. Two minutes later, Hennessy came up with an interception and returned it 60 yards down the near sideline for a TD that closed out the scoring.
Special teams were a major factor in the game as the Islanders punted effectively and the ’Dawgs had problems on punt returns. It helped ensure that most of the play was in the Barsby end of the field; the Bulldogs didn’t reach the red zone until there were only two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
“[From the] first play, we were going as hard as we can. The intensity was up and we just pushed them back, pushed them back and they kind of fell over once we leaned on them,” Bradbrooke said.
Nate Stevenson, NDSS coach, said he was “truly shocked” to win 23-0, and said his team’s game-planning worked. The mindset was that two-yard runs were OK, three-yard runs were good and four-yard runs were great.
“It was a team game today and every kid had a role and every kid was hustling,” the coach said.
Rob Stevenson, Barsby coach, said his team didn’t play well enough to win, but showed no lack of effort.
“All credit to Nanaimo District; they had a fabulous game plan. It felt like they stuck a lid overtop of us and we couldn’t breathe on offence,” he said. “Quite frankly, Barsby’s used to going out there and dictating a physical pace of these football games and this game it was all we could handle. I think they matched us blow-for-blow and carried the day.”
Nate Stevenson said there were a range of emotions when time expired in the fourth quarter.
“I was happy for our guys, I was a bit sad for the Bulldogs, you see the faces and they tried so hard and my friends over there that are coaches,” he said. “I’m so happy for our school and for [this] team and for south-end Nanaimo.”
In addition to Bradbrooke’s MVP honours and Hennessy’s best back award, the Islanders’ Jake McGonigle was chosen best lineman. Carson Bullen had two sacks and six tackles and Bradbrooke recovered a fumble and had a game-high 11 tackles. Comas led Nanaimo with 67 rushing yards and Kyle Lindsay added 60 rush yards.
For Barsby, Zach Taylor made nine tackles and A.J. Maher had seven.
Here are your 2016 junior AA varsity B.C. football champions, the Nanaimo District Islanders… pic.twitter.com/eCS1R81D6Q
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) December 4, 2016