The Nanaimo Redmen couldn’t have had a much tougher first-round playoff opponent, and an upset wasn’t in the cards.
The city’s Vancouver Mainland Football League midget team lost 36-3 to the Coquitlam Falcons on Sunday on the road. The Falcons have only lost by default this season, never on the field, and on Sunday they took control early, recovering onside kicks on their first two kickoffs.
“They really came prepared and fired up,” said Sean Roden, coach of the Redmen. “Not that we played poorly, we just got overwhelmed at first.”
Nanaimo’s chances at a comeback dimmed early in the second quarter when quarterback Dylan Tucker got injured just two plays after backup QB Jonah Wassell had gotten hurt on special teams duty. It forced the Redmen to go to a wildcat offence with feature back Rob Vlaj for the rest of the second quarter.
Wassell returned for the second half and led his team’s only scoring drive, which ended with a 25-yard field goal from Spencer Vos.
“We moved the ball well in the second half and [our players] played good, honest, clean football for the rest of the game,” said Roden. “We were outclassed during the play – nobody can outclass us between the plays. The way that they acquitted themselves and held their heads high and were sportsmanlike … that’s the way I would hope that they would behave.”
So a 2-8 regular season was followed by a first-round playoff ouster, and the year-end analysis has already begun. The coach chalks some of it up to bad luck and some of it to shaky commitment. It’s always a challenge at the midget level, Roden said, because he can’t be too strict about attendance at practice or players quit, and he can’t be too lenient or it’s not fair to the more committed players.
“We had talent, we had heart, we had determination, we had work ethic, we just didn’t have enough players that did that,” said the coach. “That comes back to me, I’m the guy that recruits for this team.”
He foresees a good group of graduation bantams and continued interest from players from high-school programs, so there’s already optimism for next season. For more information about Football Nanaimo, please click here.