Under-16 Western Challenge: Saskatchewan defeats British Columbia to win their first gold medal in tournament history
Pipe, Makowsky and Pearson named tournament MVPs
Kamloops, British Columbia (July 18, 2019) – On Thursday night at Hillside Stadium, a new champion would be crowned for the first time since the inception of the Under-16 Western Challenge.
After Alberta’s two year reign as champions was ended on Monday, Saskatchewan and British Columbia competed for the gold medal. After two straight years of coming third at the event, Saskatchewan won gold in Kamloops after defeating British Columbia 21-7.
For British Columbia, they claimed the silver medal – their first medal ever at the tournament after finished fourth the past two years.
Saskatchewan opened the scoring when Jake Farrell connected with Marshall Erichsen to get the ball out to the six yard line. A couple of plays later in the first quarter, Saskatchewan opts for a fake and Farrell dives into the end zone for a touchdown on their game opening drive to give the team the early lead.
British Columbia couldn’t get their offence going and ended up punting on third and out on their first play.
With 2:55 left in the first quarter, Saskatchewan continued to press deep in British Columbia territory. Erichsen got the ball all the way to the 1 yard line. However, British Columbia’s defence made some key stops and forced a fumble.
However, in the dying minutes of the quarter, British Columbia pivot Jovan Sangha gets picked off by Ryan Makowsky who marches into the end zone to Increase Saskatchewan’s lead.
In the second quarter, British Columbia got their composure and continued to make some huge defensive plays to stop Saskatchewan’s offence. However, the team’s offence continued to lag behind, having to punt the ball after a couple of 3 and out situations.
At halftime, Saskatchewan led British Columbia 14-0.
In the second half, British Columbia got on the scoreboard with Gavin Whittingham got into the end zone for a major.
However, Saskatchewan got their two touchdown lead back when Erichsen tallied a major.
British Columbia were not able to catch up to Saskatchewan. Within the last minute of play, Makowsky caught his second interception of the game and it sealed their first ever Under-16 Western Challenge gold medal.
Offensive Players of the Game were receiver Marshall Erichsen (Saskatchewan) and running back Reggie Elie (British Columbia). Defensive Players of the Game were defensive linemen William Parks (Saskatchewan) and Jayden Strzok (British Columbia).
While Saskatchewan was in a competitive battle against British Columbia, they are pleased to have come out on top in light of challenges they faced in the gold medal game.
“I’m really proud of how our kids played today,” commented Saskatchewan head coach David Rogers. “We had some adversity; injuries and a few things didn’t go our way where we hoped they would have.”
“There were opportunities for British Columbia to come back and really make this a tight football game but our kids beared down and they just kept fighting through all that adversity. That’s a credit to the character of the kids and to the coaches that lead them. The coaches had them well prepared. The things B.C. wanted to do early in the game, they couldn’t do and some of the stuff they tried to do in the second half, we made some adjustments. It was a really character win for our kids and speaks a lot to the community and the parents of Saskatchewan, all these players involved and the coaches right, they’re well prepared.”
As for British Columbia, they were outplayed and it ultimately costed them the medal despite trying to mount a second half comeback attempt.
“The boys played a great game,” British Columbia head coach Trent Schmuland said after the game. “We got a little banged up and ran out of a little bit of steam but they came out in the second half and they played their hearts out and I’m super proud of them.”
Tournament MVPs were Alberta running back Zachary Pipe (offence), Saskatchewan linebacker Ryan Makowsky (defence) and British Columbia kicker/punter/quarterback Ryker Pearson (special teams).
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