College Heights Secondary (CHSS) pulled off what the New York Giants did in Super Bowl 42 when they put an end to the potential perfect season for the New England Patriots.
Under the Friday night lights (Nov. 1) of Masich Place Stadium, the Cougars were able to pull away with a lead that could not be matched against the undefeated Nechako Valley Vikings (NVSS), resulting in a 20-14 victory to claim the 2019 B.C. High School Northern AA Conference championship.
Also known as the P.G. Bowl, this was the first regional title for CHSS since 2012 and a big relief for the program says head coach Grant Erickson.
“It’s just a culmination of what we’ve been working towards since I started with this team three years ago,” he said to PrinceGeorgeMatters following his team’s gusty win under the wet and cold conditions.
“We always ask them, ‘what kind of team deserves to win a championship?’ It’s something you can’t turn on and off like a switch, So whether it’s off the field or on the field, what are you doing to make yourself better, and you know, it’s great to see them hold everything together. That was a very good football team we played.”
The Cougars started out on a high note by returning the opening kick-off for the early 7-0 early just 12 seconds into the contest.
.@BCHSFB 2019 Northern AA Sr. Varsity Finals are underway 🏈🏆 @CHSSCougars claw out a kick-off return touchdown right out of the gate for an early 7-0 lead vs. Nechako Valley Vikings | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/MCgMffWuTv— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) November 2, 2019
They notched another rushing touchdown in the second quarter and held off Nechako Valley from getting on the board before halftime, keeping it a 14-0 score.
As the rain came down harder and the temperature began to drop, both teams saw more running plays, but slippery hands cost the Vikings a key possession in the third quarter, eventually leading to another Cougars touchdown for a 20-0 lead.
NVSS eventually found some hope in the night and were able to rush in two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one off a fumble by CHSS to make it 20-14 and a one-score deficit.
However, the Vikings would surrender another costly fumble, their third of the night, with under a minute left in the championship, allowing the Cougars to take a knee a hoist the trophy.
“It was wet and slippery, absolutely,” said Coach Erickson about the weather playing a big factor in last night’s tilt as only a couple of passing plays were made.
One was a completion by CHSS while the other by Nechako Valley resulted in an interception.
“I’ve been in too many situations like that before and you just don’t want to make any stupid mistakes with play-calling. We were able to get up early and get ahead on the scoreboard, so that afforded us just to grind it out, take the clock down, and, as you saw at the end there, the clock was their [Nechako Valley] number-one enemy.”
The fourth quarter brought back some painful memories, Coach Erickson admitted as back in the 2010 P.G. Bowl, College Heights was also up by one score against Nechako Valley on the sames field, but ultimately lost on a Vikings comeback.
He’s thankful his boys were able to buckle down and fight until the very end.
“I was just like, you know what, they’re the ones behind, we can’t let the momentum slip away from us; we just gotta keep battling, every play is the next play and they got up and fought it out. They could’ve packed it in, but they didn’t.”
The Cougars also dealt with a lot of injuries as they started with six linemen, but some went down for the count, but fortunately for Coach Erickson, he had called up a junior varsity player as a last-case scenario.
“He was a sure-fire back-up, but in the game, we ended up using him,” he explained. “The playbook got condensed pretty fast and we were just able to do enough on offense to stay ahead, win the field possession game and yeah, they ran out of time.”
.@CHSSCougars win 2019 @BCHSFB Northern AA Sr. Varsity Championship 20-14 over Nechako Valley after the Vikings committed their 3rd fumble in a whirlwind of a 2nd half 🏈 | #CityOfPG #PGBowl @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/4zN0b3esTs— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) November 2, 2019
Coming into the P.G. Bowl, the Cougars were 3-1 while the Vikings were undefeated at 4-0
Both #1 College Heights and #2 Nechako Valley will now face AA varsity opponents out of the western conference in the next step towards a possible provincial title.
The Cougars will face the west’s number-four seed Argyle Secondary Pipers (North Vancouver) at Masich Place Stadium next Saturday (Nov. 9) at 4 p.m.
The Vikings play the west’s number-three seed Windsor Secondary Dukes (North Vancouver) at 1:30 p.m. before CHSS takes the same field.