Ful­ton fi­nal­izes Cougars’ sea­son

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - TED CLARKE Staff Reporter [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

The Clarence Ful­ton Ma­roons play foot­ball in a tough neigh­bour­hood.

Their crosstown rivals, the Ver­non Pan­thers, are peren­nial con­tenders for the pro­vin­cial dou­ble-A var­sity high school foot­ball crown, they’ve got triple-A op­po­nents nearby in Rut­land and it’s al­ways an up­hill climb to get a shot at Sub­way Bowl glory.

Af­ter a 2-2 sea­son that placed the Ma­roons third in the In­te­rior, that door of op­por­tu­nity opened when the Ar­gyle Pipers of North Van­cou­ver de­clined their in­vi­ta­tion to travel to Prince Ge­orge to play the Northern Con­fer­ence-cham­pion Col­lege Heights Cougars in Satur­day’s wild-card play­off at Ma­sich Place Sta­dium.

On a cold and snowy night, the Ma­roons scored on the open­ing drive – a 34-yard screen pass from Quin Wil­liamson to Dy­lan Wap­ple - and went on to end the Cougars’ sea­son with a 35-18 tri­umph.

The five-foot-11, 185-pound Wil­liamson and his scram­bling abil­i­ties gave the Cougars trou­ble all night and he made the big plays un­der pres­sure to put the Ma­roons and their tal­ented ar­ray of run­ning backs in scor­ing po­si­tion.

“This was the first snow game for our team but I think we played great,” Wil­liamson said. “That felt real good to come out and es­tab­lish the first run. This sea­son we haven’t been com­ing out with the first touch­down and it was nice for our team to get our spir­its up. We got this lucky spot be­cause Ar­gyle had to drop out and the boys were hun­gry to come up here and take that ‘W.’”

Ma­roons head coach Mike Scheller wasn’t too pleased with his team in the early go­ing af­ter a se­ries of penal­ties stalled drives and he made it known from the side­lines that wouldn’t be tol­er­ated. For­tu­nately for the Ma­roons, their lack of dis­ci­pline was only a tem­po­rary road­block.

“I was re­ally happy with how our of­fence ex­e­cuted, we made a cou­ple per­son­nel ad­just­ments and Quin had a fan­tas­tic game at quar­ter­back and kind of led the way,” said Scheller. “Our of­fen­sive tack­les blocked re­ally well for him on those counter plays.”

The Col­lege Heights crowd hud­dled to­gether to share body heat in the chilly con­crete stands at Ma­sich got a surge of ex­cite­ment 3:14 into the sec­ond quar­ter when speed­ster Austin Adams took a punt re­turn 80 yards to the house to bring the Cougars to within a point of ty­ing it.

Wil­liamson brought the Ma­roons deep into Col­lege Heights ter­ri­tory late in the sec­ond quar­ter and fin­ished the drive punch­ing through the mid­dle across the goal line from four yards out. The Cougars an­swered with an im­pres­sive drive that started deep in their own zone. Af­ter a penalty moved the Cougars back to their own 10-yard line, quar­ter­back Jerome Erick­son found Hay­den Mathe­son for three con­sec­u­tive catches, aided by a 15-yard rough­ing-the-passer penalty. Erick­son then com­pleted an­other pass to Adams, who was hit af­ter he stepped out of bounds on the faintly-marked field and the penalty gave the Cougars the ball with a first down on the Ful­ton 10. But on the en­su­ing snap, Erick­son fum­bled and Day­ton In­gen­haag re­cov­ered the ball for the Ma­roons.

That turnover, right be­fore the in­ter­mis­sion, kept the Ma­roons ahead 14-6 and it had a de­mor­al­iz­ing ef­fect on the Cougars.

“Go­ing in the half, be­ing that close to the end zone it’s tough not to score be­cause foot­ball’s a game of mo­men­tum and that was just a huge swing,” said Mathe­son.

“At the end of the day they were just more bat­tle-tested than us. Their quar­ter­back was fan­tas­tic and made a lot of re­ally good plays out­side of the pocket. They locked down in the red zone and con­verted on their third downs.”

Hay­den Catt ex­tended the Ful­ton lead late in the third quar­ter with a 25-yard run and Wil­liamson hooked up with Karan Mal­ho­tra for a 35-yard TD catch fol­lowed by a Domenic Peter­son con­vert for a 28-6 lead.

In the fourth quar­ter, Mathe­son scored on a 73-yard catch-and-run which Catt an­swered with a four-yard dash into the end zone. In the fi­nal minute, a 13-yard re­cep­tion from Jared Cowan set the stage for Mathe­son, whose six-yard catch capped the scor­ing.

“They were di­aled-in and pre­pared and they just took it,” said Cougars Grade 12 line­man Alex Ribeiro, who had a cou­ple QB sacks to lead the Col­lege Heights pass rush.

The Ma­roons took away the out­side lanes Adams loves to ex­ploit and that held the Cougars’ fastest re­ceiver and most deadly of­fen­sive threat in check.

“That’s a re­ally good team over there and it’s not a knock against the other teams in the North but we don’t have that level of com­pe­ti­tion up here,” said Cougars head coach Grant Erick­son. “We’re very close to that cal­i­bre, I knew we would be. Every­body played their hearts out and we were def­i­nitely com­pet­i­tive.”

The Cougars had just four Grade 12 se­niors and po­ten­tially could re­turn most of their ros­ter. Coach Erick­son in his post-game speech re­minded his play­ers of their po­ten­tial to be­come the first team from the North to play in the Sub­way Bowl fi­nal next sea­son but stressed it will take their deep­est level of com­mit­ment to get that far.

“We know the level we want to get to - the off­sea­son starts to­mor­row and we all have to level up, the coaches and the play­ers, every­body,” said Erick­son. “If that’s our dream to get into the game at the dome next year, every­body’s got to buy in and do it to­gether.”

The Ma­roons ad­vance to a quar­ter­fi­nal play­off against the Lan­g­ley Saints, the sec­ond-ranked Eastern Con­fer­ence team, Satur­day in Lan­g­ley.

In the other wild-card play­off Satur­day at Ma­sich, the Wind­sor Dukes of North Van­cou­ver de­feated the Nechako Val­ley Vik­ings of Van­der­hoof 20-8. The Dukes will play the top-ranked Ver­non Pan­thers in a quar­ter­fi­nal Satur­day in Ver­non.

In a ju­nior var­sity play­off Satur­day at Ma­sich, the South Kam­loops Ti­tans de­feated the Col­lege Heights Cougars 42-0.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

Col­lege Heights Cougars player Jerome Erick­son tries to run the ball down field against a pair of Clarence Ful­ton Ma­roons de­fend­ers on Satur­day evening at Ma­sich Place Sta­dium.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

Col­lege Heights Cougars block­ers clear a path for Austin Adams to run the ball down field against the Clarence Ful­ton Ma­roons on Satur­day evening at Ma­sich Place Sta­dium.

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