July 4th, 2018 Victoria, BC (ISN) – British Columbia’s U16 football team dropped their opening game of the 2018 Canadian Football Western Challenge with a narrow 21-16 loss against number one seed Alberta Wednesday night at the University of Alberta.
The 2018 U16 Canadian Football Challenge, pitting top tier provincial high school all-star talent against piers in a developmental, tournament-style competition to test their skills against neighbouring provinces as they work towards the U18 national championship, the Football Canada Cup as well as national team competition. Now in it’s second year, the U16 competition was won last year by this year’s host Alberta team.
Seeded last in the tournament this season, B.C. looked to prove hedge-betters wrong despite fielding a fielding what looked on paper to be a smaller team than their prairie province counterparts.
After a shaky opening few minutes, B.C. would put points on the board first when Jamil Yousuf, in a heads up play, would intercept a batted down pass by Alberta QB Luc Nolin and run it in for the opening touchdown to go up 7-0.
Much a defensive battle most of the game, B.C.’s starting QB Hunter Bowles would find himself under pressure most of his tenure in the game as Alberta’s defensive line would control the line of scrimmage, negating his scrambling abilities with a quicker nose to the ball.
Alberta would tie the game late in the first quarter with two minutes remaining when QB Luc Nolin, tossing on third down and five yards to go, would find Cale Brownell for the TD to even the game.
B.C.’s defense would stand up Alberta through the second quarter despite the efforts of Alberta’s running back Martin Sialeu, who would finish the night with a game high 183 yards rushing.
After taking a knee in the end zone to concede 2 points to give Alberta a 9-7 lead, BC’s backup QB Kayle Cowley, inserted after starter Hunter Bowles was injured on a previous play, would go deep to Alexandros Thanos to put kicker Liam Attwood within field goal range. Attwood would kick a successful 27-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the half to give B.C. the lead again 10-7 at halftime.
Trailing 10-15 after Alberta’s Elic Ayomanor helped Alberta get the lead back in the third quarter sprinting into the end zone for a 15-yard major. B.C. would look to the leg of Attwood again, kicking a 29-yard field goal to pull within 2 points of Alberta.
B.C. would take one last lead on another successful field goal by Attwood on a twenty-two yarder, going three for three in the game, and putting his team on top again 16-15.
With three minutes remaining in the game QB Nolin would connect with a wide open Adrian Minakata in the end zone to seal Team B.C.’s fate, scoring the winning touchdown.
With the loss, B.C. now will play Saskatchewan on Saturday in the bronze medal game hoping to better their last year’s fourth place finish. Alberta will duel with Manitoba after Manitoba defeated Saskatchewan 20-10 in the earlier match up.