College Heights trying to extend football season

Victory Saturday over Clarence Fulton would advance Cougars to provincial quarterfinal

The College Heights Cougars got what they were after last weekend when they beat the previously-undefeated Nechako Valley Vikings in the P.G. Bowl final.
The Cougars, a team with just four Grade 12 seniors, pulled off the upset last Friday at Masich Place Stadium, a 20-14 win over the Vikings which gave College Heights the Northern Conference title and the top seed in Saturday's B.C. Secondary Football Association wild-card playoffs at Masich.
They'll play the third-place finishers in the Interior Conference, the Clarence Fulton Maroons of Vernon, in an elimination game at 5:30 p.m. for the rightto play the Langley Saints, the second-ranked Eastern Conference team, in the quarterfinal round next weekend in Langley.
"We've been watching film all week  and I think they're pretty close to us, execution wise," said Cougars head coach Grant Erickson. "They have a little more size than we do, but we've got Austin (Adams). I'm sure they know about him and they've seen the tape but it's different when you see it live. Hopefully we can block the outside and get him out on the edge."
The forecast for Saturday calls for rain or snow flurries during the day and a high of 1 C, dripping to -7 C at night with a 40 percent chance of flurries in the evening.
The Cougars have an injury-depleted offensive line and they'll be without three regulars - Alec Graham (knee), Alex Ribeiro (back) and Ryan Sandhu (ankle). They've gone through the season without their top receiver/linebacker, Alex Thanos, who hurt his knee in the preseason. That leaves them with just 19 players from their roster to take on the Maroons.
"We're down to six linemen and it's going to be rough," said Erickson. "We're hoping we can get some of the (junior varsity) kids in Grade 10 to give us a hand. They won't get to play much but at least it will give our guys a break on the d-line. Offence is different because they've got to know the plays."
The Maroons lost 14-0 to Vernon in a playoff last weekend and they're ranked third in the Interior. They took the wild-card berth when the Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver, ranked fourth in the Western Conference, declined the invitation to come to Prince George.
In Friday's P.G. Bowl final, the Cougars scored on the opening kickoff when Austin Adams went 75 yards for an early lead. Adams and Hayden Matheson added rushing touchdowns to give them their margin of victory.
"It was ugly, it was raining and it was soaking wet so we didn't pass, we passed twice the entire game," said Erickson. "Austin and Hayden were doing the running."
Their title win was the fifth in 16 years for College Heights since high school football was revived in Prince George in 2004. The Prince George Polars and Duchess Park Condors have each won four P.G. Bowl titles.
"We just figure we're in bonus time now, we won the (Matt Pearce Memorial Trophy) and will all the injuries we've had we're happy with what we've got,"' said Erickson. "If we win the game, great. If we don't, we're not going to be upset about it.
"It would be nice to go down to Langley and take a run at (the Saints) because I know they're a great team and that will show us where we need to be next year."
The Vikings of Vanderhoof will try to extend their season Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Masich when they take on the Windsor Dukes of North Vancouver, the third-ranked Western Conference finishers. The winner of that game will face the No. 1 provincially-ranked Vernon Panthers, the defending double-A varsity champions.
The College Heights-South Kamloops junior varsity playoff starts at 11 a.m. 
In other wild-card playoff action Saturday, the South Kamloops Titans, ranked second in the Interior, host the Robert Bateman Timberwolves of Abbotsford. The winner will go on to play the Ballenas Whalers in a quarterfinal next week in Parksville. The Holy Cross Crusaders are in Nanaimo to meet the John Barsby Bulldogs on Saturday for a quarterfinal berth next weekend against the G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack.


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