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Nanaimo’s Barsby Bulldogs make it back to B.C. AA high school football final

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity team will face Vernon in Subway Bowl Dec. 2 at BC Place
Barsby Bulldogs tacklers bring down a Windsor Wolves ball carrier during the B.C. High School Football AA varsity semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 25, at B.C. Place stadium. (B.C. School Sports image)

The Barsby Bulldogs get another trip to B.C. Place to play for a provincial championship.

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity football team won its semifinal against the Windsor Wolves by a 28-9 score this past Saturday, Nov. 25, to advance to the Subway Bowl final on Saturday, Dec. 2.

The Bulldogs were challenged in the semifinal, as they led just 6-3 at halftime. But coach Rob Stevenson said his team’s strength up front wore down the opposition as the game went on.

“Our three-yard carries were turning into five- and nine- and 10-yard carries,” he said. “The tide of the game started to change about mid third quarter. We were starting to push them around.”

Barsby’s scoring came from Rhondé Lyle, who scored three rushing touchdowns, and Kai Rednour-Bruckman, who caught a TD pass from Cohen Cadieux. On defence, Jonny Durkan had two interceptions and Rednour-Bruckman had one.

The result sets up a matchup against the Vernon Panthers in the Subway Bowl. Vernon was undefeated in league play this season and Stevenson said the Panthers are well-coached, physical and tough.

“They’ve got a stellar passing game, great offensive line, a superb quarterback, a great set of receivers,” he said. “It’s going to be a matchup and a half. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The Bulldogs will counter that with their own strengths, which include a defence that can stop the run and create turnovers, and their own standout O line.

“We’ve got to be patient and do what we do which is just lean on them and establish our style of offence,” Stevenson said.

He added that it will be important for his team to come out of the gate ready to go.

“Against a good team like this, we’re not going to be able to decide to turn it on halfway through the second quarter – it might be too late by then,” the coach said.

Barsby brings a lot of experience into the Subway Bowl, as many of the players won a junior varsity Coastal championship in 2021 and were runners-up in AA varsity in 2022.

“We’re back in there and what’s good about that is the moment doesn’t overwhelm the focus on the game you do have to play,” Stevenson said. “We’re fortunate to be there and we’ve got to be thankful for it because there’s a lot of people that never ever go there.”

Stevenson noted as well that the core of the team has been playing together since peewee in the South-Side Minor Football Association, and now the Grade 12s are entering their last week of high school football.

“This is it. Monday will be the last Monday practice of their high school career. Tuesday will be the last [Tuesday practice]. There’s a finality to it,” the coach said. “You’re going to create a legacy for yourself one way or the other.”

GAME ON … Barsby and Vernon play Saturday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m. at the Subway Bowl at Vancouver’s B.C. Place stadium. The game will be live-streamed by B.C. School Sports.

READ ALSO: Barsby girls win Island volleyball championship

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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