The Kelowna Riders completed a dream season Saturday in Kamloops, capturing the B.C. 9-man atom football championship.
The Riders capped off an undefeated 2016 campaign with three wins at the provincial tournament at Hillside Stadium, securing the title with an 8-0 shootout victory over the Abbotsford Falcons in the final.
In the shootout format, the teams each have a chance for a score from the 20-yard marker. If either team leads at the end of a shootout round, that team wins the game.
In the final, the Riders made good on their opporunity, as Brady Schutz scored thanks to strong blocking from the offensive line and receiver Gavin Kelly. A two-point conversion by Kyle Smy made the score 8-0.
Then on the Falcons first possession, defensive end Markus Landis-Kurath crashed into the backfield disrupting the ball transfer causing a fumble.
Reid Thompson recovered, putting a quick end to the shootout and securing the Riders the provincial championship.
The Riders, who went a perfect 10-0 during the Southern Interior Football Conference season, defeated the Prince George Axemen 22-6 and the Falcons 20-16 at provincials, to advance to the final.
Head coach Lance Kayfish was thrilled the Riders team’s performance all season.
“This is a special team, they worked well together and put in the effort so they deserved a chance to win the provincial championship,” said Kayfish. “We were nervous going into the shootout but I have to hand it to the players, we surprised even ourselves by ending the match in just three plays.
“To see our Kelowna Riders match up with other undefeated teams was a great day of football,” Kayfish added. “I’m glad these young players were able to maintain the focus we’ve worked on all season long and have success.”
Kelowna’s Brady Schutz was named the B.C. championship MVP.
The provincial champion Riders are:
Brady Schutz, Gavin Kelly, Kyle Smy, Markus Landis-Kurath, Reid Thompson, Quinn Kayfish, Hayden Littlechilds, Jake Nelson, Lochlan Douglas, Zyla Wickert, Maddux Elson, Maddox Bentley, Owin Roy, Seb Woychuk, Weston Lewis, Noah Tozer and Liam Gallagher.