The first-ever Black Tusk Bowl is in the books and while the Howe Sound Sounders soundly defeated the Pemberton Grizzlies, the game indicated the burgeoning health of the sport of football in the Sea to Sky Corridor.
Grizzlies head coach John Burleson said he was pleased with the turnout at Howe Sound field on Saturday (Oct. 27) and he hopes the game becomes an annual event.
“A game like this is great for the Sea to Sky Corridor,” he said after his team’s 33-2 loss at the hands of the Sounders. “I contacted Jim [Errington, Sounders coach] about getting the two teams together and I’d like to make this a yearly event.”
Burleson said it was a nice opportunity for his team to play closer to home, as the Grizzlies have travelled to take on teams in Prince George and Washington State earlier this year. He said he was happy with his team’s development over the year but that the more established Sounders showed their experience at the Black Tusk Bowl.
“We’re a first-year team and Howe Sound has had a solid football program for a long time,” he said. “We really need to cut down on our mistakes to compete with a team like the Sounders.”
Howe Sound’s defence was dominant, holding the Grizzlies to -33 total years offence and recovering two fumbles. Sounders quarterback Roland Mendoza said the exhibition game against Pemberton was a nice tuneup game for he and his teammates.
“I thought for being a first-year team that Pemberton played a really good game,” he said. “But I’m proud of my teammates and I thought we looked good today.”
Mendoza threw for 85 yards in the win and Howe Sound’s passing game has been developing over the past few weeks. He said attacking in the air will be key if Howe Sound wants to make a deep playoff run.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the pocket,” he said. “And my pass blocking has got a lot better.”
Norbi Richter was Mendoza’s main target in the air, with the duo hooking up four times and picking up big gains. He said he’s been able to develop chemistry with several receivers on the team.
“Norbi is a really dependable player for us,” he said. “And I think our other receivers have been finding ways to get open. We’ve been working on passing in practice a lot and I think it’s working out.”
Five different Sounders reached the end zone as Swo-wo Gabriel, Josh Watts, Josh Tackaberry, Cam Dare and Mark McChesne all scored rushing touchdowns. Howe Sound grabbed 145 yard rushing total on the day.
Watts led the way defensively with six tackles and one sack. Justin Genovese also grabbed six tackles and Adam Stangowitz picked up the Sounders’ other sack.
Errington said he sees some potential in the newly formed Grizzlies.
“The Grizzlies may be young and inexperienced but what I saw was a team with a desire to play,” he said in an email. “And, as I'm sure Coach Burleson knows, that's all you need to build a successful team.”
The Sounders will next host GP Vanier on Saturday (Nov. 3) at 1:30 p.m. According to Errington, it should be another big test for his team.
“They have Cody Fletcher, who is probably the best back in the league,” he said. “And they beat Frank Hurt on the weekend which makes us and Hurt currently tied for third.”
For more information on the Sounders regular season, visit www.bchighschoolfootball.com.