P.G. Bowl finAL GoEs Friday
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.