It’s one of Vancouver Island’s fiercest football rivalries, and as always, the Border Battle lived up to its billing, with the Bulldogs topping the Whalers 41-21 in the annual varsity football showdown between John Barsby Secondary and Ballenas Secondary schools.
Played out in Nanaimo at Canem Cage last Friday, Dustin Rodgriquez staked the Whalers to a 6-0 lead on the first play of the game when he returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown (they missed the convert).
The Bulldogs shook it off and scored four unanswered touchdowns to take a 29-6 lead into the half.
The Whalers closed it to 29-21 after three quarters. Parksville pivot Liam O’Brien hooked up with Justin Holland who scored two touchdowns off long catch and runs.
The Bulldogs scored midway through the fourth to go up 35-21, and Ballenas marched the ball into the red zone but came up empty on a call in the end zone. Barsby took over, moved the ball downfield and scored on the final play of the game.
“Those are always tough games to lose (but) it was a great battle, and I think both teams learned something from it,” said Whalers’ co-head coach Sean Hines.
“I thought we came out of the blocks pretty good but then we flattened out, I don’t know what happened,” said Hines. “Barsby, they just played their game, they just kept work’n, work’n, work’n, and they made some plays. They didn’t bring any surprises, they just had a game plan and executed it well.”
The Bulldogs remain the number-one-ranked AA varsity football team in B.C. The Whalers went into the game ranked fourth.
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Four days after watching their senior counterparts come up short in the Border Battle, Ballenas Secondary School’s junior varsity football team took one on the old chin strap Wednesday, losing 52-0 to the visiting John Barsby Bulldogs.
Whalers’ head coach Mike Di Giacomo was pragmatic after what could be the juniors’ final home game, saying his team “was in tough. There’s no question they’re a big strong team, and they showed their dominance.
“They’re the team that made it to the championship game last year (at the B.C.s), and they showed us why,” he said.
The loss also came at a cost.
“Lots of injuries today — five starters,” said the coach, pointing to QB Josh Bouchard, tailback Thomas Frank, defensive end Kaleb Magneson end, and two others.
The loss leaves the JV Whalers at 2-1 in the six-team AA Island Conference (and 3-3 overall).
The senior Whalers host the Sun Devils at BSS tomorrow (Saturday). Kickoff is 1 p.m.
The juniors have an exhibition game in Nanaimo next Thursday against the NDSS Islanders. On Oct. 29 they’re in Couretnay. They close out conference play Nov. 2 in Sooke.