Story by Christian J. Stewart (ISN), Photos by Tabitha Fong
December 7, 2015, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Mt. Doug Rams football Head Coach Mark Townsend will be the first to avoid calling the Rams Varsity football program a dynasty, but after their fourth AAA Varsity Subway Bowl Provincial Championship in the past five years – a convncing 34-17 win over the Vancouver College Fighting Irish last Saturday at BC Place in Vancouver – it is hard not to think of the program as just that.
Dynasty? The Mt. Doug Rams head on to the field prior to their 34-17 win over Vancouver College that secured their fourth Subway Bowl title in the past five years (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
The Rams made a record fifth straight appearance in the Subway Bowl game on Saturday, with their only loss in that span, coming last season in a 55-30 blowout to South Delta. For many of their players, including their graduating seniors, getting back to the championship game and getting a win this season, was an ultimate goal right from training camp.
The fact that the Rams made it to the final again and captured the title this year is even more impressive, given the make-up of the team. Vastly smaller than the past few seasons, most notably on the line, and led by rookie Grade 9 quarterback Gideone Kremler, the Rams were felt to be in a re-building year and not expected to fare well against the Lower Mainland powerhouses. That, combined with the fact that they were going up against a Vancouver College team that handed the Rams a decisive 20-0 loss during the season, made a win Sunday look improbable.
Mt. Doug Rams rookie Grade 9 quarterback Gideone Kremler (8) played earlier in the day in the Junior Varsity final and then led the Varsity Rams to victory, throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the 34-17 win over Vancouver College (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
However the term “re-build” is another one of those terms that Townsend prefers to avoid, instead opting for the term “re-load” instead. And “re-load” is certainly an apt term for what the Rams did this season and in the game Sunday.
Quarterback Kremler, who, like he has done all season, played in the Junior Rams championship final earlier in the day – sadly a 48-29 loss to the New Westminster Hyacks – and then re-loaded himself for the Varsity game against the Irish and was simply outstanding, going 13 for 23 through the air for 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Also re-loading for the Rams was running back Declann Michielin, who was on crutches earlier in the week with an ankle injury and was doubtful for Saturday’s final. Well doubtful is clearly not a term in Michielin’s vocabulary, as he did in fact play and all he did was carry the ball 24 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns, taking home the Subway Bowl Most Outstanding Player Award for the day.
On crutches earlier in the week with an ankle injury, Rams running back Declann Michielin (22) dressed Saturday, running for 135 yards and two touchdowns to earn the Subway Bowl Most Outstanding Player award (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
Townsend was quick to lavish praise on both players for their performance. “I am pretty convinced Gideone [Kremler] has a Superman cape on under his uniform. The poise and endurance he has shown all year – especially for a Grade 9 – was incredible and for him to bounce back like he did after the tough JV loss earlier in the day speaks volumes for what he is made of and for what we have to look forward to from him in the next three years.”
As to Michielin, Townsend added, “What can I say about Declann? On crutches for a portion of the week, and the performance he displayed in the game was simply amazing, on both sides of the ball. Declann is arguably the toughest football player I have ever coached.”
Mt. Doug Rams receiver and returner Gavin Cobb (11) was named the Subway Bowl MVP, grabbing four receptions for 68 yards, returning kicks and playing solid defence in the win over Vancouver College (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
The Rams offence was also helped by touchdown receptions from Oliver Mackenzie and Griffin Posynick and stellar performances from receivers Gavin Cobb and Gavin McNally-Hardisty. Cobb pulled in four receptions for 68 yards and was named Subway Bowl MVP, while McNally-Hardisty had four catches for 63 yards and one touchdown, a bobbling, off-the-shoulder, circus catch that put the Rams up 28-17 in the third quarter and gave the Rams the breathing room they needed the rest of the game.
Rams receiver Gavin McNally-Hardisty (6) keeps his eye on the bobbling ball and would eventually haul in this pass for a third-quarter touchdown that gave the Rams a 28-17 lead at the time (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
The Rams defence was also a key factor, shutting down the talented Vancouver College offence with notable performances from Michielin with eight tackles, Quinn Jennish with six tackles, Aidan Kachinoski with seven tackles and two quarterback sacks and senior Justice Kremler, with eight tackles, one sack and a huge 45-yard interception and return in the fourth quarter that set-up the Rams final score of the game and effectively eliminated any chance of a Vancouver College comeback.
“Our defence was the difference in the second half,” noted Townsend. “They shut-down the high powered Irish offence and our offence was able to cash in on the opportunities. Aidan Kachanoski was outstanding on both sides of the ball, but specifically on defence where he was unstoppable. Justice Kremler had the game of his life in his final game, awesome to see from such a great young man.”
Members of the Rams pose with the 2015 Championship banner (Photo Courtesy Tabitha Fong / Mt. Doug Rams)
“This was an incredible conclusion to a fantastic season for these players,” added Townsend. “They faced a lot of adversity this week with injuries and in the game itself, and each they responded with great resilience. Our Seniors had simply their best games on the season’s biggest stage. This team is an amazing group of resilient young men and they should be extremely proud of what they have collectively accomplished this year.”
With Kremler at the helm next season, there should be no need for the Rams to “re-load” in 2016, especially given that a number of players from the Junior Varsity squad, who got back to the final for the first time since 2011, will be making the move up to Varsity. Like the term or not, “Dynasty” is certainly a term that fits the Rams nicely and is one that may be applicable to the program for a very long time.