For the second year in a row, the Westside Warriors set an impeccable precedent and beat Americans at their own gridiron game.
At a Burlington, WA invitational tournament hosted by the North Cascades Youth Football League, the peewee players from Vancouver scored 12 touchdowns in three games, allowed none and gave up very few yards to their opponents to maintain a perfect record.
In 2011, the first year they travelled south for the tournament, the Warriors set their high standard. They went undefeated, scored seven touchdowns in four games and conceded only one TD.
“Energy and intensity,” said coach Mike Pauls, were two reasons for the winning streak. “Our kids played our system really well, they had a ton of energy, they played really hard. They knew they were going down to play the Americans and they wanted to show well.”
Parents flew Canadian flags on hockey sticks and the Warriors had the feeling they could have been Team B.C. or even Team Canada, said Pauls.
“We wanted to represent Vancouver and Canada. The Americans have a very rich football tradition, the organization of the tournament was incredible and there were thousands of parents and kids. There were six football fields,” he said.
In spite of the football-centric culture of their hosts, the Warriors were the better football team and the 10- and 11-year-old players drew compliments for their courteous Canadian attitudes.
“We were better prepared than they were. They were good kids but we just brought it,” said Pauls.
“We had a group of players that have been down there the year before so they were not intimidated at all. We knew that we had great success the year before and were feeling confident. We had so much energy and intensity -- we knew we would need to attack the American teams to do well. We have a few new players who are very athletic and talented.”
The Warriors beat teams from Lakewood, Mount Vernon and Burlington.
The referees complimented the Warriors for their mature behaviour and sportsmanship.
“They told us that our players had the most sportsmanlike attitudes they had ever seen at that age group because our kids played hard to the whistle, tackled well and then would pick up the kid they had just tackled and [tell] him that they had done well,” Pauls described in an email to the Courier.
“Also, the boys were very polite and respectful to the referees. I personally feel that that is a huge thing that we as coaches are trying to instill -- good sportsmanship and trying to be good role models for them. Very Canadian, eh?”
The pre-season tournament win came on the heels of another significant win for the peewee Warriors. They won the Bronze Boot for the first time in club history since 1980.
“Again we did not allow a point against in all three games,” said Pauls. “We have a defense that will keep us in any games until the offense can get some points on the board.”
The wins come as the Warriors prepare for their first home game of the regular season Sept. 9 at Carnarvon Park in Kitsilano.
The Westside Warriors invite all alumni to their home-coming. For more details and a full schedule, visit the Vancouver Mainland Football League online at vmfl.ca or westsidefootball.bc.ca.