The Comox Valley Raiders opened their Junior Bantam football season Sunday, Sept. 11 at Copley Park in Victoria against a strong Victoria Wildcats team.
The Raiders had many players playing their first game of Junior Bantam football and/or their first football game ever. They played the Wildcats tough but fell 34-6.
The Raiders did not get the start they wanted as the Wildcats broke a couple of long plays for two first-quarter touchdowns. With the two-point conversions the score was 16-0 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Raiders started to gain momentum. The defence shut down the Wildcats offence except for one long TD pass. The Raiders also surrendered a two-point safety in an attempt to change field position during the quarter.
The Raiders’ offence started to put together some sustained drives and were knocking on the door for a touchdown until they ran out of time before the half. The score at the break was 26-0.
The Raiders never gave up and played much better in the second half after some half time adjustments. The offence opened the second half with a long drive capped off by an impressive touchdown run by quarterback Drew Wootton. After an unsuccessful conversion attempt the score was 26-6.
The Raiders’ offence continued to move the ball against the Wildcats but unfortunately could not put together another scoring drive.
The play of the offensive line – consisting of Mark Biollo, Lexie Monro, Duncan Whetter, Kai Hughes, and Hayden Cowell – improved greatly during the game and their strong play was noticeable in the second half. The efforts of the offensive line were assisted greatly by the solid blocking of tight end Sam Ezzy.
In the second half the Raiders’ defence held strong and the only points given up were on a broken play where the Wildcats’ quarterback eluded a sack and ended up breaking the play outside for a touchdown run. The Wildcats capped the scoring with the two-point conversion to make the final 34-6.
Notable efforts for the Raiders came from quarterback Drew Wootton in his first game as a QB. On defence, linebacker Johnathan Woods had a strong game which included a huge fourth-quarter sack.
The defensive line was led by the sturdy play of Hannah Bourbyn. Defensive back Colby Banyad was also noted as making some keys plays for the Raiders’ defence.
The Raiders’ coaches do not feel that the final score is indicative of how close the game was. “The Raiders battled all game long and the coaches were impressed of the effort put forth by the players,” a team spokesperson said.
“The score during the second half was only 8-6 for the Wildcats. This resilient second half play will be a launching pad for the season as the Raiders players continue to learn and develop.”
The Raiders play their first home game this Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. at Bill Moore Memorial Park in Courtenay when they host the Nanaimo Dawgs.