Fulton Maroons shovelled snow more than they practiced football during the week.
The Maroons’ team and coaching staff, with parent volunteers, spent Friday morning shovelling off snow at Greater Vernon Athletic Park to prepare for their B.C. AA High School Senior Varsity Subway Bowl wild card playoff game Friday afternoon against the Samuel Robertson Technical Titans of Maple Ridge, then melted the Titans 40-0 in a game played in 17.5 centimetres – seven inches – of snow on the turf.
“I was really impressed with how our kids came out and performed today,” said Maroons head coach Mike Scheller. “It was tough weather conditions and our kids were mentally prepared for it. We showed a lot of mental toughness against a scrappy Titans team.”
Fulton led 12-0 after the first quarter on a one-yard plunge from quarterback Ike Olson and a 17-yard pass from running back Ryan Rumsey to Caden Doyle.
The Maroons upped the lead in the second quarter, scoring a safety and another touchdown run from Olson (three yards), to take a 20-o cushion to the locker room.
“The quick start helped a lot,”said Olson. “It was really tough to play out here in the snow, it was really wet, but it was a great team effort. We all played our best and that helped in the end.”
Fulton equalled its point output with 20 more in the third quarter with two touchdowns from Rumsey (both four-yard runs), and a 28-yard pass from Olson to Teigen Derkach. Cole Hunter added a two-point convert on a single-point kick try. Hunter bobbled the snap, picked up the ball and ran through the snow into the corner of the end zone.
There was no scoring in the fourth quarter.
The Maroons kept the Titans out of the red zone (20 yard line and in) throughout the game.
“Our defense carried us again,” said Scheller. ” I can’t say enough about their hustle and pursuit to the ball. We are tackling well and our defensive staff has them in the right place at the right time. JJ Heaton was super tough in the interior of our defence. Carson Harrower had his best game of the year at linebacker, and Koalden Gudeit-Oakden was tough in the secondary. Really, the whole defensive unit is playing very well.”
It was the third time the Maroons shut out an opponent this season. Nate Banga had a key interception that led to an Olson touchdown.
Rumsey finished with 88 yards on the ground as Scheller praised the play of the team’s offensive line, including Heaton, Logan Higgs, Austin Moore, Sean Jasminez and Brennan Kennedy.
The Titans (3-2 in the regular season) arrived at the field just 40 minutes before kick-off and played without eight regulars due to injury. They had no way of preparing for the snowy tundra that awaited them.
“It was very difficult in these conditions. In the Lower Mainland, they’d never let us play in the snow like this. It’s dangerous, tough conditions, but you know what, we both had to play in it,” said Titans co-head coach Rick Palwecki.
“Our game plan was different that it had been all year. We didn’t have our starting centre, quarterback, outside linebacker. We came up here wounded. Had we had a full team, I felt pretty good about our chances but with some of the key injuries we had it made it difficult for us.”
For Olson and the other Grade 12 Maroons, Friday was their final home game of their careers as the Maroons will now play on the road for the rest of the playoffs.
“It means the world for us,” said Olson of the victory. “We’ve all been on a pretty tough road these past few years. We’ve been playing since Grade 9 so it means a lot to get wins on our home turf in Grade 12.”
The Maroons will now travel to Vancouver to take on the No. 1 ranked Windsor Dukes of North Vancouver in quarterfinal action.
The No. 2 ranked Vernon Panthers will host Nanaimo’s John Barsby Bulldogs in quarterfinal play Friday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park. The Bulldogs steamrolled the Langley Saints 46-18 in wild card play Friday.
There were two other neutral site wild card games slated for GVAP Saturday with North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers taking on the Prince George Polars (winner to play G.W. Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack), and the Hugh Boyd Trojans of Richmond facing the College Heights Cougars of Prince George (winner to play Abbotsford Panthers).
In Junior Varsity play, the fourth-ranked VSS Panthers will host fifth-ranked Kelly Road Roadrunners of Prince George Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park.