Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
December 3, 2016, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – The Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS) Islanders picked a pretty good moment to win their first ever high-school football championship, playing for the first time in their history at BC Place in Vancouver and beating their cross-town rival Barsby Bulldogs 23-0 Saturday to win the BC High School Football Junior Varsity AA Subway Bowl Championship.
The win was also special for NDSS fans – four busloads and a number of carloads of which made the ferry trip to the mainland and filled the stands at BC Place – as well as Nanaimo Head Coach Nate Stevenson, who now earns bragging rights over his older brother Rob Stevenson, the Bulldogs’s Head Coach.
“It’s bittersweet” said Nanaimo’s Nate Stevnson about his team’s win. “We’ve been their little brother on the football field for many years and also in life, given that Rob is my older brother and by gosh we finally got them! What a feeling!”
“The kids knew coming into this that this was something they could do,” added Stevenson. “I could not be prouder of this team. They stuck with it. Each kid had a role and each kid tried so hard for their teammates. I am overwhelmed. I am shocked. This is just something else!”
The game was a defensive battle throughout, with Nanaimo finally breaking through with 6:11 to play in the first half when Anthony Comas scampered in from 6 yards out to give the Islanders a 7-0 lead.
They would add a Finn Bradbrooke field goal with 1:36 to go to take a 10-0 lead into the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, Nanaimo’s Liam Colbourne intercepted a Barsby pass by Cameron Wright and took it to the Barsby 30-yard line. A few plays later, Nanaimo quarterback Bradbrooke called his own number and dove over the goal line on a 5-yard run to make it 17-0 with 4:38 to play.
Any chance of a Barsby comeback was then snuffed with 2:37 to go, as defensive back Clayton Hennessy intercepted another Wright pass and took it 60 yards to the end zone for another score, giving the Islanders their final points of the day.
Barsby had one last chance to at least break the shut-out, driving down to the Nanaimo 7-yard line, but were stopped on a final fourth-and-goal Nanaimo defensive stand. The Islanders then ran out the clock and celebrated their 23-0 win.
Nanaimo’s Bradbrooke was named the game’s MVP, while Hennessy took home the best back honours. The Islanders Jake McGonigle was also selected as best lineman.