Hyacks look to rediscover magic formula
The reigning triple-A football provincial champion New Westminster Hyacks aren’t going into the Subway Bowl playoffs with momentum on their side.
The Hyacks dropped three of their final four regular-season games to finish 4-3. They open up the wild card round Friday, hosting the Abbotsford Panthers (3-4) at Mercer Stadium (7:30 p.m.).
New West found ways to win tight games last year, including the Subway Bowl finale, where they scored on the final play to secure a 15-14 win over the Terry Fox Ravens at B.C. Place Stadium. This season, they have been missing that knack, including dropping a 34-28 decision to the Mt. Douglas Rams last week and a 38-35 game to the Notre Dame Jugglers Oct. 5.
“Those are both very good teams and we were certainly in position to win those games,” said Hyacks coach Farhan Lalji. “We need to get back to that mindset, get back to thinking that we’re going to make those plays when it matters.”
Quarterback/linebacker Kinsale Philip returned to the New Westminster lineup last week and is expected to play against Abbotsford. He threw the last-second touchdown pass last December that helped the Hyacks beat Terry Fox, and he’s talented enough on both sides of the ball that Lalji believes the Grade 12 would have been in the mix for provincial player of the year if he didn’t miss three games with a broken foot.
Lalji was quick to point out that the Ravens, Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and St. Thomas More Knights were all missing key competitors for the entire season, or part of it, due to injuries or departures to U.S. prep schools and “they were able to figure it out.”
“Kinsale in the lineup does make us a better team,” Lalji said.
Abbotsford features triple-A’s leading rusher in Jalem Catlin, who ran for 1,375 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.
The winner of the game faces Lord Tweedsmuir (7-0) in next week’s quarter-finals. They’re the top team in the provincial rankings, which can be found at Howard Tsumura’s varsitysletters.ca.