P.G. Bowl fi­nAL GoEs Fri­day

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted Clarke Cit­i­zen staff

If

you don’t count the pre­sea­son, this has been a per­fect high school foot­ball sea­son for the Nechako Val­ley Vikings.

Three straight wins in the reg­u­lar sea­son and a con­vinc­ing 46-8 tri­umph over the Prince Ge­orge Po­lars in a semi­fi­nal play­off last Fri­day have the Vikings of Van­der­hoof clos­ing in on their first P.G. Bowl North­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship since 2011.

Nechako Val­ley will take on the Col­lege Heights Cougars Fri­day night ( 7 p.m.) at Ma­sich Place Sta­dium for the Matt Pearce Me­mo­rial Tro­phy.

“This is the se­nior var­sity team’s first time back in the P.G Bowl since 2016, we’ve been held out for three years now so we’re happy to be back and look­ing for­ward to win­ning it,” said Vikings head coach Shel­don Brown.

“Es­sen­tially, they’re just play­ing fun­da­men­tal foot­ball, they’re all do­ing their jobs and they all trust each other.”

The only blem­ishes on the Vikings’ record this year came in the pre­sea­son, when they lost to Col­lege Heights and the South Kam­loops Ti­tans.

The Cougars are well aware of the game­break­ing abil­i­ties of the Vikings run­ning backs, Gar­rett Dyck and Bridger Jensen, and they know quar­ter­back Kay­den Young has a pow­er­ful and ac­cu­rate throw­ing arm. The Vikings also have a size ad­van­tage on the lines with seven line­men tip­ping the scales at 200 pounds or more. That beefy bunch in­cludes Grade 11 line­man Tean­cum Arnold, who has es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion with his crush­ing hits.

“He’s an an­i­mal,” said Brown. “He’s a big strong, fast de­ter­mined kid and I am so happy that he’s on my team and that I get to coach a foot­ball-minded kid who just wants what’s best for the team. You def­i­nitely don’t want to meet him one-onone in the holes.”

The Vikings last won the P.G. Bowl in 2011, when they beat Duchess Park 13-6 for the ti­tle. Brown says his team will be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to Austin Adams, one of Cougar quar­ter­back Jerome Erick­son’s favourite tar­gets in the air and on the run. “He’s re­ally fast and def­i­nitely a threat,” said Brown. “He’s kind of a re­minder of what (Duchess Park Con­dors run­ning back) Col­burn Pearce used to do to us and we’ll try to con­tain him as much as pos­si­ble.” Col­lege Heights beat the Kelly Road Road­run­ners 36-6 in the other semi­fi­nal on Fri­day. In the 16 years since the P.G. Bowl was first con­tested, the Cougars have qual­i­fied nine times for the cham­pi­onship game. They last won it in 2012, beat­ing the Vikings 8-0 in Van­der­hoof, the only time the P.G. Bowl has been played out­side of the city. “It feels amaz­ing to be go­ing to the PG Bowl, Van­der­hoof has no idea what’s com­ing,” said Cougars quar­ter­back Erick­son. “They got us last time (a 34-20 loss to the Vikings Oct. 20 at Ma­sich), but any team can beat any­body. We need to pass the ball, and last time we couldn’t, but I know ex­actly where the gaps are go­ing to be and watch me ex­ploit them.” Coach Grant Erick­son had an in­tense week of prac­tice lined up for his team. The Cougars are a young se­nior team, with just five Grade 12s on their 23-player ros­ter and they ad­vanced to the fi­nal with­out their top run­ning back/ line­backer, Alex Thanos. who suf­fered a torn ACL in the pre­sea­son against Sal­mon Arm. “Our line has a big chal­lenge ahead of them but I know one thing about our guys is they will come to play and com­pete, they will give it ev­ery­thing they’ve got,” said coach Erick­son. “They love each other like a band of broth­ers. We’ve got a lot of Grade 11s and for us to make it this year, we’re just re­ally proud of our guys.” The North­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pion will play the West­ern Con­fer­ence fourth-place fin­isher, while the P.G. Bowl run­ner-up will face the third-seeded team from the West. Both of those games will be played on Satur­day, Nov. 9 at Ma­sich. The Po­lars and Road­run11-7. ners will play for third place at Ma­sich this Fri­day at 4:30 p.m.

Nechako Val­ley Vikings player Bridger Jensen runs the ball against PGSS Po­lars de­fend­ers Fin­ley Pea­cock, left, and Alexan­der MacPheat on Fri­day af­ter­noon in the one of the B.C. Se­condary Schools North­ern AA Con­fer­ence semi-fi­nal matchups.

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