Ravens steamrolled by Hyacks in playoff opener

For the third straight year, the Terry Fox Ravens’ journey in the B.C. High School Football League ended at the hands of the New Westminster Hyacks.

This time, New West doused Terry Fox’s hopes early Friday, handing them a 45-6 loss in the opening round of the BCHSF playoffs at Mercer Stadium.

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It didn’t take long before the game got out of control, as New West led 14-0 before the game was five minutes old and 42-0 at halftime.

The Ravens, who entered the playoffs off a 29-7 victory over cross-town rival Centennial, were unable to put a dent in the Hyacks defence, serving up a couple of touchdowns in the first half on interceptions.

Most of the team’s 13 first downs were achieved in the second half, after New West made heavy substitutions. The Ravens did rush for 206 yards, just three yards shy of the Hyacks total, but completed just one of eight pass attempts.

For a program that had gone 24-6 over the previous three years – including winning it all in 2016 -- this season was the kind where the hard knocks kept coming. The bright spots were few and far between, and it was reflected in Friday’s season-ending defeat.

“(There were) just way too many errors,” remarked co-head coach Martin McDonnell. “The second half was better, though. (New West was) good enough to play some extra kids, and the score in the second half was 6-6 – so you try to look for a positive.”

The team’s lone touchdown came on the final march of the night, when Grade 12 Ethan Elliot carried it across on a 22-yard run. The senior earlier registered an interception.

“(Ellliot) had a good year. He got hurt last year and he doesn’t have a lot of football experience but he’s a great kid. You’ve got to look for the positives and he’s one of them. He got hurt in the spring and that was a real setback for him. He would have been so good, but he’s been running around on one leg and he hasn’t had surgery yet but he still wanted to try.”

The seniors, who experienced a 33-0 loss in the semifinals last year to New West, carried a heavy load. Players like defensive back Kyle Huish – the team’s lone all-star selection – and quarterback Matthew Lew-Hendricksen were tasked with larger roles on a slimmed down roster.

Injuries piled up, putting more pressure on the Grade 11 and 10 players who were cutting their teeth on the senior circuit. The club’s final record – 2-5 for sixth overall in the Eastern Conference – was a tough pill to swallow, getting out-scored 147 to 66 in the process.

“It’s a very young team, and all of our linemen are back so we’re hoping for better things (next year),” said McDonnell. “No one is going to feel sorry for us, we’ve had lots of good years but this wasn’t one of them. This was hard to take.

“You’ve got to roll with the ups and downs. … We’ve had some people leave, some injuries, our numbers are down, but you know what, if you stay at one school long enough you’re going to have some bad years.”

Giving hope for next year were some good prospects playing for the junior varsity Ravens, who also fell in their first playoff game, 26-13 to Kelowna earlier in the week. The junior squad will send more linemen up to the senior level, while McDonnell is hoping the numbers issue can be improved over the coming months.

“No one is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve had a lot of good years, but this was a tough one. It’s still tough on us coaches, particularly because we’re not use to losing. … I feel bad for the Grade 12s. Down the road they’ll forget about it, and in four years they’ve had some good (achievements).”

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