It didn't matter that their team was ahead by five touchdowns, the Duchess Park Condors didn't want to give an inch, let alone allow the College Heights Cougars to move the ball ahead one more yard.
The Condors were trying to preserve their shutout after Cougars running back Daniel Blondin hauled in a David Williams pass and was tackled one yard shy of the end zone with time running out in the fourth quarter of Friday's P.G. Bowl Northern Conference high school football championship at Masich Place Stadium.
Their goal-line stand started with Mitchell Schulz sacking Williams on first down. On the next play, Brogan Cruse busted through to tackle Ben Stratton in the backfield for another loss, and a couple of penalties later the Cougars were out of options. They turned over the ball without scoring and the celebration was on for the Condors, who won 33-0.
"We didn't care how much we beat them by, we just wanted to send a message and shut them out," said Cruse, who finished the season with a league-leading 70 tackles.
TJ Kyriakos scored four touchdowns in the final -- two on running plays and two a result of passes from quarterback Rylan Matters. Wide receiver Caleb Cruse scored the other Duchess Park major and had two interceptions from his safety position. The Cougars secondary, led by Blondin, provided tight coverage and limited the damage through the air Matters usually causes. He got chased out of the pocket a few times but still found his receivers.
"Rylan is on a whole other level as a quarterback, I don't think I've ever seen anybody read the field like he does," said Blondin, who also played middle linebacker for the Cougars.
"I think we did pretty good, we held them to one of their lowest scoring games all season, they're tough to beat and we just went out there and played our best."
The PG Bowl win was the first for Duchess Park since 2007. They steamrolled their way through the season, posting a perfect 8-0 record while outscoring their opponents a combined 354-46. The Cougars, who trailed 18-0 at halftime, came into Friday's game as the defending champions.
"It's awesome," said Brogan Cruse, who excels on both sides of the ball and was voted the top offensive lineman in the Northern Conference. "Two years ago we lost in the final game to Vanderhoof, so we got our redemption. We were pretty confident in our team but we didn't go into the season cocky. We've been playing together for a long time so it was good to go 8-0 and hopefully we can make it 9-0 and keep going."
For Cruse and his Grade 12 teammates -- Jordan Cundy, Joel Bundock, Nic Lacaille, Hunter Freund, Alex Gammon, Dryden Barkowsky, Matt Lupul and Tyler Unger -- Friday's game was their last on home turf as high school players but it's not the end of their season.
The postseason will continue this Friday for the Condors, who will be in Kamloops to play the the Frank Hurt Hornets of Surrey in a one-game playoff. The Hornets lost 27-0 Saturday to Holy Cross of Surrey to finish third in the B.C. High School Football Association's double-A varsity Southern Conference. The Cougars will travel to the Lower Mainland to face the first-place South Delta Sun Devils.
The Condors lost 81-0 to the John Barsby Bulldogs of Nanaimo in the exhibition game Aug. 31 and also played the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford on Sept. 14, losing 43-6.
"It's a totally different ball game down there, faster and harder hitting and they have bigger teams of 30 or 40 kids," said Brogan Cruse. "We'll have 25 players dressing for provincials for the senior game."
n In the junior varsity P.G. Bowl Saturday night, the Prince George Polars walloped the Duchess Park 54-6. The Polars will advance to a playoff Thursday night in Kamloops against South Kamloops. The Condors will play Vernon Wednesday night in Kamloops.