A trip to the playoffs was up for grabs, and the G.P. Vanier Towhees punched their ticket to the post-season by defeating EJ Milne of Victoria 49-20 in senior varsity high school football action,
The Sept. 28 game was played under the lights on a wet, cool, misty night at Bill Moore Memorial Park. Each team had played three league games with Milne winning two and Vanier winning just one. Milne had passed for 574 yards and run for 223 yards. Vanier had passed for 219 yards and run for 906 yards, setting the stage for a classic battle between a run and pass offence.
Milne kicked off, and Vanier’s first play was a an incomplete pass. But from that point on it was the crushing running of Connor Willis and Nolan Laderoute, down after down, that culminated in a Willis touchdown and one-point conversion. “Our offensive line was doing a superb job,” said Vanier coach Bob Campbell.
Willis kicked off and the Towhees pinned Milne deep into their own half, in part because of the hard work of its defensive line. It was three and out for Milne and the resulting punt went five yards because of Vanier’s defensive pressure. Taking over on Milne’s 35-yard line, the Towhees continued their punishing running game and Laderoute finished the drive with a TD. Willis converted.
Milne revved up its passing game and made some great plays resulting in a touchdown, but they came up short on the convert. Milne kicked off and the Vanier offence started to once again grind the ball down the field. Milne changed tactics and started to blitz and the result was a fumble, recovered by Milne.
The visitors resumed their aerial attack and tallied another unconverted touchdown. Milne then kicked off and the combination of Willis and Laderoute drove the Towhees down the field, with Willis scoring another touchdown just before halftime. The conversion made it 21-12 Vanier.
To begin the third quarter Vanier kicked off for a touchback. The Towhee defence rose to the occasion and linebacker Brandon Hudson snagged a pick six, which Willis converted.
After the kickoff Milne resumed its passing game and drove to the 25-yard line. Vanier’s defence rose to the occasion and sacked Milne’s quarterback for a 20-yard loss, but a penalty negated the sack and Milne scored another passing TD and tacked on a two-point conversion.
At this point two things happened. Vanier’s defence converted into a pass defence, and quarterback Ian Curry went to a longer count on the offence which proceeded to catch Milne’s defence offside a number of times and helped to negate their blitzing.
A handful of Milne players became very agitated and the penalty flags started to fly. As the PA announcer commented; “There were so many flags being thrown on the field it looked like the UN.” The umpires did a great job keeping the players under control but eventually two Milne players were suspended from the game. At the end of the third quarter Willis scored another TD and convert.
In the fourth quarter Laderoute scored his third TD and Willis converted. Vanier’s Mexican import, Jose Huacuja, almost scored a second consecutive TD but forgot to lean forward and was stopped within inches of the end zone. Defensive safety Justin “Hands” McCooey finally got the monkey off his back with an interception and run back.
Willis ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He had eight kickoffs for 460 yards, four touchbacks, and converted 7-of-7. Laderoute ran for 89 yards and three TDs. Curry passed five times completing three of them, two to Dylan Wyatt and one to Huacuja.
Hudson led the defence with eight tackles, one QB sack and one interception for a TD. Derick Senft had three tackles. Cole Patterson had two tackles and one sack. Austin Barnes and Willis both had three tackles. Wyatt, Jeff Slaco and Stephen Bradshaw each had two tackles. Travis Funk had one tackle.
Vanier wraps up their regular season Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. at Bill Moore park against Gulf Islands.
– G.P. Vanier Towhee football