Cowichan Valley Football Association

Playing Giant-killers tough with a depleted roster

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by Don Bodger – Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
posted Oct 2, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Twisting around to avoid being stripped of the ball, the Cowichan Bulldogs' Mitch Hinton plows into Chilliwack territory after an interception. — image credit: Don Bodger

Twisting around to avoid being stripped of the ball, the Cowichan Bulldogs’ Mitch Hinton plows into Chilliwack territory after an interception.
— image credit: Don Bodger

The Cowichan Bulldogs proved Sunday in their home opener at McAdam Park they can play with the best of the Vancouver Mainland Football League’s Midget Division for one half.

But with a shorthanded roster, the task over a full game becomes onerous. Despite only trailing 13-6 at the half, the Bulldogs were beaten 41-6 by the visiting Chilliwack Giants, who recorded their fifth straight win.

“We had a couple of injuries,” said Cowichan coach Doug (Opie) Williams. “With guys going both ways, we had nothing left.”

Chilliwack boasted a full 42-man roster for the game while the Bulldogs only had 20 players dressed.

It was a great opening for the Bulldogs at home after a cruel scheduling situation made them play four straight road games, including three on the Lower Mainland on successive weekends.

The first quarter was scoreless and Chilliwack opened the second with a touchdown, but Cowichan blocked the conversion attempt.

The Bulldogs enjoyed a great second quarter but were victimized by some unfortunate circumstances.

Cowichan got its offense going after a Mitch Hinton interception brought the ball close to midfield. A run by Darian (Wiggy) Slater set the Bulldogs up for a couple of great misdirection handoffs from quarterback Kain Melchior to Eric (Wheels) Williams, who went untouched 29 yards to the end zone on the second scamper. The Bulldogs also missed their convert and the game was tied.

The Bulldogs came right back when Riley Caljouw made a tackle and stripped the ball away for a fumble. But misfortune turned the ball over when Melchior had his arm hit just as he was about to pass and the ball dropped right into the arms of a lineman for an interception.

Chilliwack caught the Cowichan defence napping late in the half with a pass over the middle for a TD and the ensuing convert made it 13-6. Cowichan still made one last gasp to equalize before the half with a big catch by Jonas Joseph but he was hit and fumbled.

The second half was all Chilliwack.

“We had some dropped balls in the second half,” said Williams.

“Defense made some mistakes. They got some deep passes on us for touchdowns.”

Keeping his players continually on the field due to the manpower situation is proving frustrating for Williams.

“I haven’t had to ever do it,” he said. “It’s a new thing for me. I’m not used to it.”

Williams had until Wednesday to finalize his roster and still hoped to make a couple of more additions.

“I don’t need a lot more,” he said. “If I get another couple of more bodies, that’ll make a big difference.”

The Bulldogs lost several players from last year’s squad who still had midget eligibility remaining to higher levels and it’s just impossible to replace them.

They’re also contending with the loss of a Wednesday practice slot at Rotary Park to a soccer group that’s not sitting well with the coach. That’s the key day for preparations heading into weekend games.

The Bulldogs host the Nanaimo Redmen Sunday at noon at McAdam Park. The Bulldogs have two wins in five games while the Redmen are 1-3.

The Cowichan Bantam Bulldogs are now 1-3 on their season after a 27-7 weekend loss to the North Surrey Tigers.