They were the bantam provincial champions in 2000, but little did the Westshore Warriors know a 2001 playoff win would be their last for 10 years.
The club now known as the Victoria Spartans is back on the rise.
On Sunday the sixth-place Spartans (5-5) defeated the third-place South Delta Rams (7-3) 17-15 in the Vancouver Mainland Football playoff quarterfinals. The win puts the Spartans, whose players are 14 or 15 years old, into the semifinals. Victoria will travel to take on the fourth-place Chilliwack Giants (6-4) this Saturday.
“South Delta beat us 34-0 early in the season and took us a little too lightly (this time) I think,” said Spartans coach Paul Precious.
Defensive end and running back Jordan Worth as well as linebacker Bryan Galbraith-McTavish, led the Spartans in a “total team effort,” Precious said.
“We only took one penalty. They weren’t ready for us.”
The upset is one of two that happened in the quarterfinals, with the second-place Cowichan Bulldogs knocked out by the seventh-place Langley Mustangs.
Precious has been coaching with the organization for 15 years. He saw the rise of high school football programs at Mount Douglas and Belmont draw players away.
It’s not just in Victoria. Across the province, three-down club football has become secondary behind the four-down variety played in B.C. high schools.
“A lot of the kids from our 1998 and 2000 bantam championships played midget, and went on to the Victoria Rebels and Vancouver Island Raiders, some winning Canadian titles,” he said.
Since then it’s been a battle to get players out. The odd guy will play club and high school, including one Spartan who plays for Belmont right now. But practising twice a day and playing two games per weekend is often too much.
Midget Spartans fall to Titans
Last year’s “Cinderella Story” will forever stand on its own for the Victoria Spartans as the reigning provincial champs fell in the midget football (16-18) playoff quarterfinals to the South Surrey/White Rock Titans on Sunday, 24-14.
The Spartans had finished eighth last year as well as this year. But this year’s squad was unable to recreate the magic of 2010.
Played in Cloverdale, the Titans took a 14-0 lead before the Spartans came alive to tie it.
“Its was a hard-fought battle,” said coach Paul Mulholland. “We finally were able to get our offence moving and, with some solid running and precision passing, managed to fight back and score two touchdowns of our own.”
But a long series of back and forth play ended with the Titans scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
“They added a field goal (24-14) to that. We had a couple of chances late but were unable to put any more points on the board.”
Five of last year’s championship team played for the Westshore Rebels junior team this year, and one with the Chilliwack Huskers.