A year ago, the Kelowna Owls were blown out in Victoria by the Mt. Douglas Rams.
As far as the 2015 edition of the Owls are concerned, that was then and this is now.
On Friday afternoon, a more experienced KSS squad will battle the perennial powerhouse Rams in the quarterfinal round of the B.C. high school football playoffs.
Mt. Douglas—the three-time provincial champs from 2011 to 2013—posted a 4-1 record during the regular season.
The Owls were a respectable 4-2, suffering their only regular season setbacks to top-seeded teams Terry Fox and St. Thomas More, losing 27-13 and 14-7 respectively.
While Ben Macauley wasn’t with the Owls for last year’s 57-0 playoff loss to the Rams, the new KSS head coach is confident his team will be far better equipped for the challenge ahead.
“Our Grade 12 players who were there last year remember it well and gained some valuable experience from it,” said Macauley, whose club is led by star senior Parker Simson. “That shock value is gone, so our older guys should be able to just go out and play. We’ve had some good games against the top teams, so we feel like we’re in the same ball park and feel like we have a chance to win.”
Adding to the challenge for the Owls is having to make the trip to the island for Friday as opposed to B.C. Place where all other quarterfinals will be played Saturday.
Given the option, the Rams chose to play the game a day early on their home turf.
“If I was in their position, I probably would have done the same thing,” Macauley said. “We miss two full days of school, we’re going to have a skeleton (coaching) staff, so it’s not ideal.
“But we’re hungry, we know we can compete with these teams,” he added. “It’s up to us as coaches to drill home that this is just another group of guys. The (Rams) are used to playing in these big-time games, and it’s up to us to step up and do the same.”
The Owls advanced to the quarters thanks to a 27-7 win over the Argyle Pipers in the round of 16 on Saturday in Kelowna.
Parker Simson and Adam Diabase threw a pair touchdown passes to each other to account for the scoring. A staunch Owls defence was led by Cole Stregger and Jackson Lawson with seven tackles apiece, while Sean McMechan had six tackles and Matt Blanchard had two sacks.
Since the return of football to KSS in 2003, the Owls have never reached the semifinals.
South Delta 59 Mt. Boucherie 49
The South Delta defense couldn’t stop Mt. Boucherie’s passing game.
The Bears defense couldn’t stop the Bulldogs running game.
At the end of a wild affair Friday at Burnaby Lakes Complex, it was South Delta moving on to the second round of the B.C. high school football playoffs.
Tyler Toic threw for 492 of the Bears’ 536 passing yards and seven touchdowns.
Dayton Moore caught nine passes for 174 yards and scored four majors, while Spencer Schmidt caught two passes for 63 yards and a major before leaving the game with an injury in the first quarter. Ty Truong caught 10 passes for 106 yards and a TD, as the Bears came up on the short end of a 108-point barrage.
“We scored the same number of touchdowns, they just converted their two-point converts and we didn’t,” said Bears coach Mike Godwin. “We really missed a few key guys on defense.”
Nick Kopp and leading tackler Taylor Knoll were both sidelined with injury, while Schmidt’s loss was also a blow to the Boucherie defence.
Godwin said it was a season of mixed reviews for the Bears who finished with a 4-6 overall record.
“All and all it was an up and down season,” he said. “We had moments of brilliance along with our share of breakdowns.
“On a positive note, we were a very young team…most of our starters were Grade 11s, including our entire offensive line. We will miss our graduating players, but we have some good players coming up from our JV squad next year.”
The Bears junior varsity squad will be in New Westminster for the second round B.C. quarterfinals on Thursday to face the No. 1 ranked Hyacks.
Mt. Boucherie advanced with a 36-34 victory in the round of 24 last week over Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, the Rutland Voodoos were eliminated in the opening round last week, losing 42-0 to Seaquam.