With an impressive run all season long, the junior bantam Sooke Seahawks fought their final battle on Sunday at West Hills, losing against longtime rival, the Saanich Wolverines with 48-8.
This wasn’t a loss though. It was a testament to just how tough and dedicated Sooke can really be, despite multiple injuries and an already short lineup of players.
“The score doesn’t reflect how hard these boys played,” noted Seahawks co-coach Rob Davies, whose son ended up in the hospital with a head injury after a previous football match.
During Sunday’s game, the team had no substitute players at all (compared to the usual two or three) which made things significantly more difficult.
“We played like this all season long,” Davies said. “Because we had injuries from last week still spreading into this week, it was a tough game for these boys.”
Despite the loss, the junior bantams had their best season in two years, with six wins and two losses overall against every possible opponent out there. More importantly, they showed everyone what the underdog can do, noted Brandon Cheng, team manager.
“People had doubts that we’d be putting together a team, but we did, and made it this far,” he said, adding that injuries at this level of the game is unavoidable.
“At this age, when you have 14 kids or so, they’re getting hit harder, so injuries are going to happen.”
The team initially started out with 19 players – by the time Sunday’s final championship arrived, the ‘Hawks were clinging on with just 15 players. In retrospect, Saanich and Gordon Head teams have more than 20 players to rotate.
Still, nothing seemed to stop them from giving their hardest on Sunday, especially with players such as Jared Steele who pecked the ball away even against a wall of hungry Wolverines.
Then again, that’s precisely the spirit that makes Sooke special.
“They’re great kids, lots of heart on this team,” Cheng said. “They wanted to prove something, that even despite Sooke being the little guy we’re going to fight just as hard.”
The finale also marked the end of the football season, with the Seahawks going home with the bronze in one of the most epic junior bantam games yet.