Bear Creek will play Nantyr Shores for SCAA championship following victory over Eastview in Barrie
Bear Creek Kodiaks defensive back Alex Hill, left, prepares to take down Cam VanBodegom of the Eastview Wildcats during senior boys high-school football action at Eastview Secondary School in Barrie on Friday. The Kodiaks won, 19-7, to advance to the Simcoe County Athletic Association final against the Nantyr Shores Tritons. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER
It wasn’t too long ago that the Bear Creek Kodiaks were a winless team.
A month and a half later, they’re going to the finals.
The senior boys football team advanced to the Simcoe County Athletic Association championship game thanks to a 19-7 victory over the Eastview Wildcats on Friday.
“We started off 0-2, not exactly the best start,” said Bear Creek receiver Cam Weatherill. “But over the course of the year, we practised every night, we had lunch practices and lunch film sessions and we’ve really grown closer as a team.
“I think that’s really changed our team morale.”
With some gusty conditions for the second playoff game in a row, the Kodiaks relied on some key stops to take control of this one.
“Definitely, this game was carried by our defence,” Weatherill said. “They held them over and over going into the wind.
“On a day like today, the wind was crazy strong, and the defence kept us in it and allowed us to get some good drives going.”
Neither team could really get anything working offensively until the second quarter, when Bear Creek quarterback Cole Blake hit Thomas Perri in stride for a 53-yard gain.
From there, Bear Creek would attempt to run it in from the two, but initially fumbled the ball.
Riley Duxbury would scoop it up and alertly dive forward into the end zone, giving the Kodiaks a 6-0 lead.
“For the team morale, (it) was huge,” Weatherill said. “Suddenly, the day was less cold, and everyone was jumping, hooting and hollering.
“It brought the team together more and we were coming back hard.”
Bear Creek got inside the 30-yard line on its next drive, but things stalled and it was forced to punt on 3rd and 7.
But after Eastview went offside, the Kodiaks got five yards closer, and decided to go for it, finding success.
That would set up a halfback pass, and with all of the Wildcats pushing towards the ball carrier, Weatherill was all alone in the end zone to make the catch for a touchdown.
“That was Cole Kovachik (throwing the ball), who is actually our fullback,” Weatherill said. “It was one of those plays we do in practice sometimes that ended up getting called, and it happened.
“It was a crazy play and it worked out in our favour.”
That would give the Kodiaks a 12-0 lead at the half, and when they elected to take the wind in the fourth quarter, the pressure was squarely on the Wildcats to respond.
It took nearly the entire third quarter, but Eastview would get into striking distance, thanks to a run by pivot Braidon Foster, and a pass interference call.
On second down at the 11-yard line, Foster would call his own number again, bulling forward to find the end zone and get Eastview on the board.
While a two-point conversion would fail, kicker Will McCulloch’s boot into the wind would bounce through the back of the end zone, cutting Bear Creek’s advantage to 12-7.
Once the Kodiaks had the gusts at their back in the fourth quarter, they began to air it out.
“Every quarter going into the wind, we ran it more, but when we had the wind at our back, we were throwing it more,” Weatherill said. “We definitely had to respect their offence when it was going with the wind, too.”
A pair of excellent punts from Jacob Johnson pinned Eastview deep in its own territory with time ticking away.
While the Wildcats would get far enough out of the shadow of their own goal posts the first time, the second occasion went awry.
A handoff to the running back was supposed to lead to a pass back to Foster.
Instead, it landed in the hands of Bear Creek’s Liam Mackey, who was already standing in the end zone.
“I was a little confused as to what the play call was,” Weatherill said. “I’m not sure if something went wrong, but we were super stoked.
“It was good to close it out like that.”
Bear Creek will now move on to face the Nantyr Shores Tritons in next Thursday’s SCAA final, a squad it fell to back in September.
“We’re a completely different team than the one that played the first game of the season,” Weatherill said. “I think if we give our best effort, we’ve got a good shot at it.”