Highlanders head to quarterfinals
Shawn Anderson, head coach of the Highlanders, has nothing but praise for the Bowen football players who came out to the game last Saturday. West Vancouver Secondary School’s team had a chance to play at BC Place in the high school football playoff games.The Highlanders rose to the occasion, beating Rutland 31 - 11 and earning a spot in the quarterfinals.
Anderson said that it was an “awesome game” for West Van Secondary’s football program and Bowen Island’s Jack Welsh was a huge contributor. “Jack has been on the team for four years and is a very significant player,” Anderson said. “His brother Charlie Welsh also played well. He came off the bench and got two catches, for 21 yards.” Charlie Welsh is on the junior team but Anderson had invited junior players to come along to experience the thrill of playing in a big stadium.
“My intention was to give them an opportunity to play at BC Place and see what that is like,” he said. “It’s a cool experience to play there: to go in at the media entrance and see a professional locker room. It’s part of what we practice for.”
The passes Charlie Welsh caught originated from another islander, Finn Morales, who came in as quarterback late in the fourth quarter. Morales was five for six completions, and 39 yards passing. He is also a junior player and Anderson believes his and Charlie Welsh’s performances bode well for the future of the team.
Brothers Jonas and Niko Blomberg are also team but could only come along for moral support as they are both recovering from injuries.
Anderson has been coaching football at West Van Secondary for four years - three of them he’s spent as head coach.
“When I took over, we had a some leaner years, when football fell out of popularity,” he said. “Now we have a good group of athletes who are interested in playing football and the Bowen Island guys are a huge part of it.
“The big thing to get across is how well they’re playing,” he explained. “They face a totally different challenge. When our practice ends at 5:15 p.m., West Van players can be home for dinner at 5:30. Bowen Islanders might not get home until 7:30. And they have to get up early in the morning. Yet they never complain. It is admirable for a young person to have that quality. And it’s a huge asset for us.”
In the game ahead, the Highlanders will face the W.J. Mouat Hawks. “It’s going to be a difficult game, the Hawks are currently ranked number two in the province,” Anderson says, but that doesn’t mean he’s not hopeful.
“We played them in September and lost 47-33. It was a close game and our players take that as a confidence boost. We showed them how tough we are and I think we may be in it right until the end.”