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Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks renew playoff rivalry with Vancouver College

W.J. Mouat Hawks head coach Denis Kelly is expecting a tough Subway Bowl semifinal Saturday against Vancouver College. Photograph by: File, Times

Triple-A Subway Bowl semifinal set for Saturday

Abbotsford Times November 23, 2011

The bitter memories of last year’s defeat to the Vancouver College Fighting Irish in the Subway Bowl semifinal are still fresh in the minds of the W.J. Mouat Hawks.

The Hawks were beaten, handedly, in that game 27-3 by the eventual provincial champs from Vancouver College.

Thanks to a 50-0 whitewashing of the Kelowna Owls in the quarter-finals at Mouat’s field on Monday – that game was originally set for Saturday in Kelowna but was rescheduled due to unsafe field conditions – the No. 2-ranked Hawks will have the chance to shake the disappointment of last November.

“I remember it being a very tough, physical game,” said Grade 12 defensive back Nathan Henczel, who spearheaded the Hawks’ defensive effort Monday with a pair of first quarter interceptions.

W.J. Mouat Hawks' quarterback Daniel Markin will look to lead his team past the Vancouver College Fighting Irish in Saturday's Triple-A Subway Bowl semifinal at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium. Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG, Times

“I want this to be a good rematch and I just want to show how good we actually are. I want the team to play to the best of our ability and I think it will turn out well if we do.”

Saturday should represent something of a rubber match between the two football powerhouses.

The Fighting Irish laid a whooping on the Hawks in last year’s playoff game, while the Hawks were victorious against the Fighting Irish in the 2009 semifinal game, which makes the impending version 3.0 so intriguing.

Both teams, as Hawks head coach Denis Kelly says so often, seem to be peaking at the right time on both sides of the ball.

“They’re going to be highly motivated,” said Kelly of the Fighting Irish. “We’re going to have to be real sound both offensively and defensively because they’ve improved and have been on a roll lately.”

In fact, the last time the Fighting Irish lost, it was to the Hawks. Since then, they’ve won six in a row.

“We know we’re capable of beating them,” said Kelly. “We’re certainly not expecting a repeat of last year.”

The one area the Hawks might hold a slight advantage over the Fighting Irish is on defence.

W.J. Mouat Hawks' Deion Bain gets tries to break the tackles of several Vancouver College defenders during the Hawks 42-14 win in exhibition play on Oct. 1. Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG, Times

After allowing the least amount of points amongst all the Triple-A teams during the regular season, the Hawks have earned back-to-back shutouts in two post-season games, in large part to their pre-game preparation.

“The guys are seeing their efforts pay off and with that confidence you build team spirit and that belief that you can win,” said Kelly.

Saturday’s semifinal presents a different challenge for the Hawks.

The Fighting Irish have not been afraid to pass the ball this season. They boast one player – Justin Sanvido – in the top three in league receiving after their first and only playoff game.

“We’re expecting a lot of running from them but they also pass a lot as well,” said Henczel.

“The games are getting tougher so I think naturally we’re just connecting as a defence.”

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