New Westminster’s varsity Hyacks are in a great position for success this season, coming out of exhibition play last week with a hard-hitting victory over their Coquitlam rivals, the Centennial Centaurs.
Celebrating homecoming on Friday the 13th, the Hyack seniors had no problems with bad luck. After letting the Centaurs get the jump on them in the first minutes of the game, the Hyacks came back hard with a 37-yard touchdown on a punt return by Grade 11 wide receiver Matt Seymour. This was quickly followed by a two-point conversion by running back Angelo Tanjuaquio, making it 8-8.
Head coach Farhan Lalji said he was impressed by his team’s strong turnaround early in the game, especially after a fumble cost them possession.
“Our team really responded to the moment against a very athletic Centennial team. It felt a lot like last week – we started slow by giving up an early touchdown, but after that I thought our starting defense was outstanding, especially in the red zone, by not giving up another point,” he said.
The remainder of the first quarter was a stale mate between the two teams, neither of them giving up enough to allow a touchdown by their opponents. While the Centaurs’ offence relied on big gains up and down the field, the Hyacks’ defence played short and quick, slowly pushing the Centaurs out of their end.
The Centaurs had a good chance to score, having made it all the way down field to the Hyacks’ red zone, within two yards of the goal line. The Hyacks’ defence fought back, tackling the Centaur and forcing a loss of five yards.
But by the second quarter the referees started cracking down on both teams, causing dozens of yards lost. While this caused havoc for both teams, the Hyacks really felt the blow when flags inundated the field early in the second quarter.
After managing an impressive pick and return of more than 30 yards, the Hyacks were called back to their own red zone.
While the flags didn’t stop flying for the remainder of the game, the Hyacks persevered, scoring another touchdown by halftime, making it 16-8 entering the third quarter.
“Offensively our offensive line continues to be physical and get better every week. They are our backbone right now and are giving everyone confidence,” Lalji said.
This is especially true watching Hyacks’ running backs Angelo Tanjuaquio and Julian Ramirez. The New West boys dominated the field Friday night, scoring three touchdowns between the two of them and running more than 100 yards each.
Grade 12 Tanjuaquio opened the third quarter with a touchdown deep in Coquitlam’s red zone. A few plays later, Ramirez scored another Hyacks’ touchdown, upping the score to 31-8.
In the final minutes of the third quarter, the game hit a snag when one of Coquitlam’s players went down. Firefighters at the game attended to the downed player, later confirming he had broken his ankle. The game was delayed for about 30 minutes before the player was taken away on a stretcher to an awaiting ambulance.
The remaining quarter saw two more touchdowns by both the Hyacks and the Centaurs, finishing the game at 44-22, in the Hyacks favour.
The win over Coquitlam marks the third win of the Hyacks’ exhibition season, which began with a 20-14 win over South Delta at the end of August.
But Lalji said the team will have to stay disciplined if they want to beat a top AAA team like Saanich’s Mt. Douglas.
“Playing a team that’s as fast as Centennial will help us prepare for the No. 1 ranked team in the country next week. But if we want to compete with Mt. Douglas, we can’t take the undisciplined penalties we took tonight. We’re going to have to improve in a lot of areas, but these kids will be excited for the opportunity,” Lalji said.
The Hyacks will kickoff AAA varsity western conference regular season play on the road against Mt. Douglas on Sept. 20.
© Copyright 2013