June 3, 2017 Nanaimo, BC (ISN) – The Junior Bantam Westshore Warriors had their work cut out for them Saturday against the then second place Southside Dawgs of Nanaimo but prevailed, defeating the canines 22-19 to retake second spot in the Vancouver Island Community Football Association standings, setting the table for a season ending showdown with cross-town rival Saanich Wolverines.
A pivotal game with playoff implications, the scene was set as the Dawgs, sitting at 7-2 going into, this, their final game of the regular season have been nipping at the heals of the Warriors most of the season from third spot until a mid-season Warrior losses to Sooke T-Birds and a later loss to Ladysmith Steelers would open the door for Southside who now looked to take stranglehold on sole position of second place with a win over the Warriors.
For the now 7-2 Westshore, the win means that the Warriors reclaim the number two position they held for most of the season behind the Saanich Wolverines (8-1), thus setting up a much anticipated regular season finale between the Wolverines and Warriors for top spot and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
In a tightly played opening quarter, Warriors signal caller Hunter Bowles, finding his team on the Dawgs seven yard line after a series of strong running plays by Brennan Blondeau, would call his own number to mark the only major of the opening quarter going up 8-0.
The Warriors would jump out to a 22-0 lead by mid-second quarter on a pair of TD’s to set the Dawgs back on their heals. Bowles would throw a seventeen-yard strike down field to Jaxon Roorda who, climbing a small ladder, would snatch the ball away over the smaller Dawgs defender in the back of the end zone for the TD.
Warriors would add to their lead, capitalizing on a Dawg’s fumble recovery midway in the second quarter as Noah Williams would run from the backfield to carry the rock 32 yards to run up a 22-0 unanswered lead, seemingly well in command of the game.
However, the Warriors should have perhaps considered the old saying, “Let sleeping Dawgs lie” as the final eight minutes would belong to Southside’s field general QB Isah Calliou and RB Sean Duquette.
Marked first by a successful onside kick, the Dawgs would find their offensive touch out of the back field as Duquette would almost single handedly bring his team back from brink of what looked to be marked as a lopsided win for the visiting Victoria team.
Duquette, nearly unstoppable, would rock the Warriors for two running touchdowns late in the half, highlighted by an improbable TD run after picking a fumbled ball out of the midfield dirt and run it to the house, carrying his Dawgs team back into the game 22-13 at the half.
Despite continued offensive pressure in the in the 3rd quarter, on both sides of the ball, it would be the defensive efforts on the field that would leave spectators on the edge of their seats. With both teams offense threatening from inside the 15-yard line, defensive lines would play big to turn away the red zone threat to deny a score from other side to set up a nail-biting final frame.
The Dawgs, perhaps seeing a vulnerability in the Warriors secondary, would use a more balanced attack in the fourth quarter, finding success though the air as Westshore would focus on the home side’s running game. Dawg’s Calliou would throw to Duquette, for his third TD of the game, in the corner of the end zone from twenty yards out early in the fourth quarter to pull to within three points 22-19.
The Warriors, unable to generate any offense with time running down, would have to look to their defensive core one last time as they would find themselves backed up on their own twelve yard line with the Dawgs looking to score with four downs in hand and fifty three seconds remaining to snatch the victory away from Westshore.
The Warriors D-line, equal to the Dawg’s offensive task, would deny the entry into their house, turning away all valiant Southside efforts, to squeak out a 22-19 team win.
Of the winning effort, Head Coach Rudy Fjeldstad, relieved to take away the win, couldn’t help but acknowledge the Dawgs sideline staff. “ I got to give it up to their coaches. They made some great adjustments at half time and played us strong in the second half, forcing us to adjust as well. We persevered and came through and got the “W” “.
Asked of the Warriors pending final regular season match against Saanich Wolverines, Fjeldstad would smile, “ It’s going to be a good match up. It’s always a good grudge match between me and Coach Charly (Cardilicchia), so I’m looking forward to it. These kids, on the Warriors and Saanich have all played together on the Renegades so it’s going to be a good matchup.”
While the Warriors will take to Copley Field next week against the Wolverines, in a final, regular season battle for top spot, the dormant Southside Dawgs will await the outcome of that game to see whom they will face in the semi-finals of the Vancouver Island Community Football Association Championship.