The G.P. Vanier Towhees senior varsity football team wrapped up their exhibition schedule with a 20-15 loss to the House Sound Sounders, Oct. 1 in Squamish.
Both teams are in the AA Tier 2 BC High School Football League, with the Sounders in Western Conference and Vanier in the Island Conference. This was an inter-conference game between two teams with mixed pre-season records. Both teams were looking forward to the tilt.
The Sounders kicked off to Vanier on a windy, misty field, and their solid defence kept Vanier pinned inside their own 35 -yard line. The hosts capitalized on an early Towhee fumble to score on their first offensive set and rubbed it in by tacking on a two-point conversion.
The Sounders were playing a “double wing” offence which is basically 11 players in a ball advancing the football up the field as one, said Vanier coach Bob Campbell. “BC High School Football plays by US High School Football rules, so they have four downs to gain 10 yards. It proved difficult for our defence to stop the grinding Sounder offence.”
In the second quarter with the wind at their back, Vanier recovered a fumble and started a drive into Sounder territory. Quarterback Ian Curry threw a good pass to tight end Dylan Wyatt for a large gain up the middle, but the well-coached Sounder defence stripped the ball and recovered the fumble, snuffing the drive.
Late in the half Vanier had the Sounders backed up to their goal line when Nolan Laderoute intercepted a pass and ran it in for a pick six. During the conversion the holder juggled the ball and Connor Willis, who was supposed to kick a one-pointer, scooped up the pigskin and ran over a couple of Sounders to score a two-pointer that tied the game.
The second half got underway with Vanier kicking off to the Sounders. Once again the defence was having a difficult time slowing down the grinding Sounders’ offence, and they eventually scored a second TD on a 45-yard sweep over the right side. The conversion failed and it was 14-8.
Vanier’s next drive was stopped by another fumble. But as the Sounders were again driving toward Vanier’s goal line the Towhee ‘D’ started to play better and began to stop the run and interrupt their aerial attack by pressuring the quarterback and knocking down passes.
Laderoute intercepted another Sounder pass attempt and Vanier’s offence started to move toward the goal line. The Sounders put up a furious defence and it took a big effort by Willis to score a TD, with the kicked convert putting the Courtenay crew up 15-14.
On the ensuing kick off the Sounders went back to playing their double wing. As it was a exhibition game, Vanier was substituting players into the defence to give everyone playing time. In addition, the visitors took some needless penalties that the Sounders took advantage of to score their third major and go up 20-15.
Getting the ball back with time running out, the Towhees marched down the field behind the slashing running of Willis and Brandon Hudson. With about 30 seconds remaining, the Towhees were on the Sounders’ 25-yard line looking for a big play to get them into the end zone. But the Sounders’ defence rallied and caused a fumble that they recovered to end the threat and the game.
Total yards for Willis including punt/kick return and rushing was 159 yards. He punted four times for 200 yards, and kicked off five times for 240 yards. Total rushing yards for Hudson was 168.
Tackle leader was Hudson with seven while Tyson Remmen and Laderoute each had five. Willis and Justin McCooey each had four tackles, and Austin Barnes and Travis Funk had three each.
The Towhees open the regular season Friday, Oct. 7 against Belmont High School in Victoria.
– Vanier Towhees senior varsity football