It was deju vu all over again, but reversed.
Mission Secondary School’s junior varsity football squad beat the Abbotsford Panthers in the Subway Bowl last Saturday, handing them a 20-18 loss and earning the provincial championship title.
Later in the day, the varsity team faced off against the South Delta Sun Devils and lost.
Last year, it was the opposite, with varsity taking top spot, and the JVs earning second.
This marked the fourth straight year the JVs have played in the finals, said coach John Kapty, who along with coaches Glen Roberts and Ray Jung have now earned three titles.
“It feels great. Just as good as the first time.”
The Panthers had defeated Mission 20-18 earlier in the season in league play, and was the expected tough opponent for which the Roadrunners had been preparing, said Kapty.
It was tied 8-8 at the half, but the turning point came after an unfortunate injury to Abbotsford’s quarterback.
“They seemed to deflate,” he said, and the Panthers struggled offensively.
Mission quarterback Jesse Walker scored all three touchdowns and earned most valuable player honours.
Bryce Fillion rushed for 101 “difficult” yards in the game.
“We didn’t have Bryce last time we played Abby,” said Kapty. “We knew he would help our offense break through. He played a tough, spirited game.”
Kane Freestone-Smith was named best lineman for his efforts on both sides of the ball that included a tackle in the end zone for a two-point safety. Bicky Gill was the top receiver with five catches for 70 yards. Linebacker Peter Kulba led the defense with 13 tackles, and Dayton Robertson had nine tackles. Landon Rayburn had two interceptions defensively and Danny Jung had one.
“It’s so great to the see the kids get rewarded for their hard work. We ask a lot of our players on and off the field,” Kapty said. “This team continued to work hard and get better. That’s the formula for success in JV football.”
The season-long drive for the second consecutive varsity provincial championship started to unravel quickly in the fourth quarter last Saturday, according to head coach Kevin Watrin.
“It was a hard-fought championship game, and the score was not indicative of the game,” he said about the 31-14 loss.
The Roadrunners started slow, falling behind 11-0 in the first quarter, but scored in the second, going into the half trailing 11-7.
The senior team made a stab at a comeback and took the lead early in the third, 17-14, before a series of fourth quarter turnovers resulted in a “quick inflation of the score, said Watrin. This included South Delta blocking a punt, then the Roadrunners fumbling the kickoff which allowed the Sun Devils to put another touchdown on the score card.
Watrin noted he had a number of players playing both junior varsity and varsity this year, and that in 10 years, this is the highest number of injuries he’s ever seen.
On season stalwart quarterback Kevin Wiens, Watrin opined that the graduating player deserved the player of the year honour.
“He’s the most dynamic player I’ve seen in our 10 years in the football program,” said Watrin.
In the final, Wiens passed for 36 yards, ran for 103, and scored two touchdowns. Evan Horton, another standout player this season, rushed for 93 yards.
Defensively, Arjun Bhogal made five tackles, Horton claimed 15, while Wiens tallied five.
“We are proud of how our boys never gave up and always gave their all on every play,” said Watrin. “They are a special group of athletes.”