Towhees head into football playoffs on winning note

The G.P. Vanier Towhees wrapped up their varsity high school football regular season Saturday with a 34-0 win over Gulf Islands.

MAKING 'EM MISS is what Towhee running back Connor Willis specializes in.

MAKING 'EM MISS is what Towhee running back Connor Willis specializes in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The G.P. Vanier Towhees wrapped up their varsity high school football regular season Saturday with a 34-0 win over the Gulf Islands Scorpions.

The sudden-death playoffs get underway this Saturday, with Vanier 3-21-0, third in the Island Conference) visiting Timberline Wolves (4-1-0, second in the league) in a 1 p.m. start up in Campbell River. The Towhees scored 168 points this season and allowed 81 against while the Wolves scored 123 and allowed 64 against.

Nov. 5’s game at Bill Moore Memorial Park was the final league game for both teams.  Vanier was ranked third in the Island Conference and Gulf Islands was last.

“Gulf Islands is a mixed team with players from Grades 9 through 12,” said Towhee coach Bob Campbell. “Vanier varsity is a regular team with all of its players in Grade 11 or 12. In addition, Gulf Islands had only 16 players at Saturday’s game while Vanier had 24 dressed.”

But Gulf Islands always shows up to play, Campbell added. “To their credit there is no quit in their game, no whining, and no excuses. Even though they may not have the resources of other teams they always show up and play hard for the whole game. They beat us last year because of their tenacity.”

Vanier kicked off to start the game and the first quarter was a defensive struggle, with a series of back-and-forth punts interrupted only when the visitors recorded the first first down of the contest.

Early in the second quarter Vanier forced a fumble and took possession. They moved down the field behind the running of Connor Willis and blocking of Nolan Laderoute, with Willis running for a 40-yard TD and kicking the convert.

Vanier kicked off to Gulf Islands and their defence quickly made the Scorpions punt it back. Jose Huacuja made a very good pass reception from quarterback Ian (Lulu) Curry. Willis then scored his second TD from a well-executed draw, but missed the conversion.

With three minutes left in the half, Vanier’s offence started driving once more. Travis Gunther made a fantastic pass reception near Gulf Islands’ goal line with 23 seconds left. After a couple of tries and a couple of time outs, Willis scored his third TD and kicked the conversion to make it 20-0.

The Scorpions kicked off to start the second half.  It was clear that the age difference and lack of substitutes was wearing on them, but they were still giving it everything they had. Vanier’s coaching staff began substituting all of their healthy players so that everyone got as much playing time as possible.

Vanier started another offensive drive that resulted in a pass to Dylan Wyatt for his first touch down this year. Willis converted.

Vanier’s defence played well all game and once again made Gulf Islands give up the ball on fourth down. At the start of the fourth quarter, due to the large lead, the officials and coaches decided the rest of the game would be “run time’ where the clock only stops for injury or a coach’s time out. Willis scored his fourth touchdown on a 70-yard run and kicked the convert.

For the game, Willis carried the ball for 202 yards, had four TDs, kicked the ball six times for 320 yards and completed 4-of-5 kick conversions. For the regular season Connor ran 887 yards in five games and scored 12 TDs. For both the exhibition season and regular season, he ran 1,299 yards and scored 17 TDs.

Curry is a first-year quarterback who Campbell says has probably shown more improvement and maturity than any other Vanier player this year. He threw for 151 yards on Saturday and ran for 28 yards. Wyatt caught three passes and had a TD. Huacuja and Tyler Gunter each made a circus catch. Laderoute had a 20-yard reception.

The defence had its best game of the season. Brandon Hudson made eight tackles and recovered one fumble. Wyatt also had eight tackles and recovered one fumble. Willis had five tackles and Steven Bradshaw, Tyson Remmen and Coe Patterson each had four tackles. Justin McCooey had two tackles and seven other defensive players each had one tackle.

– Vanier Towhees football