NORTH Shore high school football teams - both the gridiron and European kinds - wrapped up provincial play in late November with solid play but ultimately no podium placings.
In the game we usually call soccer, Handsworth in AAA and Sentinel in AA both were unlucky to score fifth-place finishes despite battling through their respective tournaments with only one loss apiece.
The AAA tournament stalled early for the Royals who lost their first game 1-0 to Charles Best secondary, the top-ranked team who would go on to win their third title of the past four years. Handsworth rebounded to score wins of 5-0 over Quesnel's Correlieu secondary, 2-0 over Kitsilano and 2-1 over Vancouver College to make it into the fifth-place game where they dispatched Kelowna 1-0. Danny Yeates was named to the Commissioner's 11 tournament all-star team for the Royals.
Sentinel suffered a similar fate, losing 1-0 to Okanagan Mission who went on to win the tournament. The Spartans defeated Aldergrove 4-2, Nelson's L.V. Rogers 5-0 and Smithers 1-0 to make it into the fifth-place game where they topped Summerland 2-0. Bruno Fiere and Josh Kumoi were two of seven players to share the tournament's Golden Boot scoring title while Matt Kasteel was named to the Commissioner's 11 team.
In football, American style, the AAA West Vancouver Highlanders and AA Windsor Dukes were the last North Shore teams standing and both made their exits in the provincial quarterfinals.
Windsor put up a valiant fight against the defending champion Mission Roadrunners but eventually fell 21-7. Mission quarterback Kevin Wiens ran for two touchdowns while Windsor QB Ty Marshall countered with a touchdown run of his own in a high scoring first quarter. Wiens then hooked up with receiver Jesse Walker for a touchdown in the second quarter and that was it for the scoring as the Dukes pushed for a comeback, making several trips into the red zone, but ultimately came up short.
Despite the loss, Marshall, a Grade 11 player who will likely be one of the top-ranked QBs in the province heading into next season, was named the B.C. high school player of the week after rushing for 90 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and completing 16 passes for another 294 yards.
In AAA action the Highlanders were also in tough, facing the No.1-ranked W.J. Mouat Hawks and their superstar running back Maleek Irons. Irons scored the first seven touchdowns for the Hawks, rushing for six and adding a fumble recovery TD for good measure as Mouat cruised to a 55-20 win.
The high-flying duo of quarterback Johnny Franklin and receiver Blake Whiteley paced the Highlanders in the loss with Franklin rushing for a pair of touchdowns and throwing to Whiteley for another score.
Despite the loss, the season was a successful one for the Highlanders as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2007, further distancing themselves from a disastrous 2010 campaign that saw the team fold halfway through the season due to lack of numbers.