The Comox Valley Raiders peewee football team is moving on to the Island championship while the bantam Raiders suffered their first defeat of the season on the weekend.
The bantams compiled a 10-0 regular season record to gain home field advantage, but winter conditions forced Sunday’s playoff game against the Victoria Spartans to be played on the turf in Ladysmith.
In their first meeting last month in Victoria, the Raiders won 38-7 in what was possibly their best game of the year. But on Sunday, the score was 29—22 in favour of Victoria.
“We made two really big fumbles,” bantam head coach Damon Mair said. “They scooped them up and shortly thereafter scored. That was the difference in the game. Then they made a few big pass plays that got right over top of our defensive back, and the kid made a great catch. They played mistake-free football and we made a couple of mistakes, and that was the difference.”
Mair added the turf field likely favoured the Spartans. The Victoria side has four of five fast players, who at times could not be caught on Sunday.
The Raiders consist of 14- and 15-year-old boys and girls from Campbell River and the Comox Valley, and can take solace in the fact that it’s been several years since a Raiders team has gone undefeated during a season.
“I mentioned this isn’t the end of the world,” Mair said. “This team is just starting to realize how good it can be. They have the potential to play three more years with midget. If they stick together, they should continue to have success…This is their first taste of success. Hopefully that spurs them on to continue and get better. I don’t see why they aren’t a contender every season from now on.”
Before the bantams took to the field, the younger peewees defeated the Oceanside Lions 38-6.
“They had a great game,” Mair said. “They were just dominant on defence, offence. It was fantastic.”
The peewee Raiders were down by six early in the game, but then the offence kicked into high gear. David Chincoya, Sam Humphries and Caleb Gosselin-Elliot scored touchdowns, Brian Morrison kicked four converts, and Kayla Short-Billy ran for some big gains.
The defence dominated throughout the game, managing to hold the Lions to a single touchdown. Rhys Binney, Chincoya and Morrison shut down the offence with multiple sacks.
“Strong blocking by the entire defensive line and big plays by the offence gave the peewee team a spot in the final of the Vancouver Island Championship,” a press release states.
The peewees, who finished second in their league, face the top team, the Victoria Renegades, in the final, Nov. 12 at Merle Logan field in Nanaimo. The winner advances to provincials Nov. 18-19 in Kamloops.