Subway Bowl semifinal weekend is here. Today, a preview to the rematch of last season’s Triple A final, as well as a look at the Mouat-Mt. Douglas rivalry, and the full weekend schedule:
Howard Tsunamura, The Province, Nov 21, 2012
VANCOUVER — Up until the second week of the 2011 B.C. high school football season, you could measure the rivalry level between Victoria’s Mt. Douglas Rams and the W.J. Mouat Hawks of Abbotsford at zero and know that you got a scientifically-perfect reading.
But on Sept. 9 of last season, Mouat travelled to Victoria and beat the Rams 53-47, signaling the start of a rivalry, that has continued unabated, complete with record-setting offensive performances and of course, last season’s Subway Bowl championship final.
Their final meeting of 2012 comes Saturday at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium (5:30 p.m.), and although this time around, the playoff clash comes in the semifinals, and without the historical emotion that time has built in to the evening’s other Final Four match-up between the No. 4 Vancouver College Fighting Irish and No. 2 St. Thomas More Knights (8 p.m.), you’re advised to take the over in terms of the entertainment value promised.
“It’s a great match-up because there are so many players able to do so many things,” says Mouat head coach Denis Kelly, whose Grade 11 running back Maleek Irons rushed for a B.C. game record 491 yards (and five TDs) the last time the two teams met, a 52-49 Hawks win back on Oct. 13 in Abbotsford. “There’s just so many match-ups of athlete vs. athlete.”
With all of that said, maybe some defensive back or linebacker will make the game-defining play Saturday. Chances are, however, it’s going to be a big-play player on offence that leaves the longest lasting impression.
But the question is, who?
The No. 3 Rams are one of the most evenly-balanced teams in terms of its offensive diversity, and their skill-position players are all weapons.
Marcus Davis, the hybrid receiver/running back/ kick-returner, is the kind of new age difference maker opposition teams are loathe to try and defend. All season long, Davis has been a big-play back breaker.
Over 10 games, he’s rushed for 469 yards and eight scores, hauled in 12 TDs as part of 927 receiving yards, and he’s returned 18 punts and kick-offs for a combined 832 yards and five more majors. Put it all together, and he’s got 2,228 all-purpose yards and 25 touchdowns.
Davis, like quarterback Ashton MacKinnon, are both 11th graders. MacKinnon walked in cold to the senior varsity this season, and although he has thrown 11 interceptions, his 2,127 passing yards have yielded 33 touchdowns in 10 games, and he’s also rushed for a pair of scores.
Senior receiver Brian Dowds has caught 35 passes for 810 yards and 15 touchdowns, while senior running back Mason Swift, the reigning Subway Bowl MVP, has battled injuries all season and looks to add to his totals of 539 yards rushing with nine TDs, as a fully healthy player on Saturday.
Davis, of course, is the toughest of the bunch to stop.
“We just have to be on our toes,” says Kelly of the younger brother of ex-Rams star and current Arizona State redshirt Terrell Davis. “There is nothing more that you can do. He is an athletic event. (Dowds) can turn short passes into long gains, and (MacKinnon) may have had some ups and downs this season, but he’s had way more ups.”
The No. 1 Hawks are centred more around Irons, and the kid who became the all-time single-season rushing leader in B.C. high school football history last week, with 3,184 yards (with 42 touchdowns), shows no signs of slowing down.
“I think they will still rely on their bread and butter,” says Mt. Douglas head coach Mark Townsend. “They have a tremendous offensive line which is quick to get to the linebacker level, and they have Maleek Irons. They are not trying to hide anything. Denis is a genius, and he will put in some play-action passes, but we still expect to see a heck of a lot of Maleek Irons once again.”
Adds Kelly: “We’ve become a run-first team with Maleek, but we are trying to diversify more. But when you have a weapon like Maleek, you’d be foolish not to use him to your full extent.”
The Hawks’ passing attack has steadily diversified over the season, and starter Mario Narte has a good combination of speed and arm strength. Yet his 1,102 yards and five TD passes are Mouat’s lowest numbers from the position since 2007. Receivers Jake Firlotte, Keenan Godden and tight end Chris Brake have been Narte’s favourite targets this season.
“Tackling,” Townsend offered simply of what his defence is working on this weekend to prepare for Irons. “We know we’re not going to completely stop him, but we have to limit his long plays. That’s what really killed us in our earlier meeting.”
The No. 2 Knights and the No. 4 Irish are meeting for the second time this season. In a Sept. 15 contest at VC’s O’Hagan Field, the Irish won 17-7. Vancouver College’s only losses this season have come to Mouat and Mt. Douglas. The Knights have also lost to Mt. Douglas this season, but they are the only team to beat Mouat.
THREE GAMES, 280 POINTS SCORED
(a look at the 15-month rivalry between the Hawks and the Rams)
Sept, 9, 2011 (at Victoria)
W.J. Mouat 53 Mt. Douglas 47
The skinny — Hawks’ running back Devin Logan rushed for four TDs, including the final two of the contest.
Dec. 3, 2011 (at B.C. Place Stadium)
Mt. Douglas 42 W.J. Mouat 35
The skinny — Rams rally from a 22-point deficit, getting three touchdowns from running back Mason Swift to win B.C. title.
Oct. 13, 2012 (at Abbotsford)
W.J. Mouat 52 Mt. Douglas 49
The skinny — Mouat running back Maleek Irons carries 47 times for a B.C. single-game rushing record 491 yards and five touchdowns.
Nov. 24, 2012 (at UBC-Thunderbird Stadium)
The skinny — With a trip to the Subway Bowl final on the line, the last team standing may be the last team to score.
12:30 p.m. — Mission vs. Ballenas
3 p.m. — South Delta vs. John Barsby
5:30 p.m. — Mt. Douglas vs. W.J. Mouat*
8 p.m. — Vancouver College vs. St. Thomas More
(*-Game of the Week webcast via bchighschoolfootball.com)