It's not often you hear a coach preaching about the positive after a one-sided loss, but last Thursday was the exception to that rule for Centennial's Ryk Piche.
The senior varsity football coach was pleased as punch with the process - and the collective willingness to compete - after his club dropped a 56-32 exhibition loss to the AAAA juggernaut from Washington's Eastside Catholic School.
"Last weekend was phenomenal - [Eastside Catholic] has a very, very special football team down there," Piche said. "They're beating AAAA teams in Washington by a lot more than they beat us by. I hate losing, but I consider that game almost a moral victory."
The Cents found themselves down 15-0 after one quarter, and clawed their way back to a 35-12 scoreline at the half. Faced with a 49-18 deficit after three quarters, the Centaurs regained some respectability by putting up 18 points in the final stanza.
Among the many highlights Piche noted was the play of his running back tandem of Justin Buren and Nathan Lund.
The latter in particular had a night to remember even if it didn't take place under the Friday Night Lights, as Lund put up an astounding 489 yards of total offence: 12 carries for 231 yards, 166 yards on return plays and three receptions for 93 yards. In the process, the Grade 12 back recorded three touchdowns.
For his part, Buren ate up 55 yards on six carries on top of an 87-yard TD run on a kick return.
"They're two very dynamic players and my problem is trying to get them both enough touches. It's a great problem to have," Piche said.
Centennial pivot Nick Okamoto threw for three completions on six attempts, copping 93 yards in the air in the process, while the team's third running back option, JP Kalambay, collected 31 yards on four carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run.
"The boys understood the significance of the game afterwards," Piche said. "They understood that they're not going to see a team like that in Vancouver. [Eastside Catholic] had close to 100 guys on their sidelines and all of those guys can play."
Centennial's varsity side plays host to Mission in another exhibition tune-up this Friday, Sept. 21. Game time is 7 p.m. at Percy Perry Stadium.
Centennial's junior team, on the other hand, got it done in their final exhibition tune-up late Thursday after downing the AA Windsor Dukes team 32-0.
The junior side's offence looked to be in mid-season form, albeit against a lesser AA opponent, as Matthew Danieli, Josh Taitinger and Bryan Whittet all picked up passing touchdowns from quarterback Jay Jay Jackson. Not to be outdone, Jackson collected one rushing TD and a pair of two-point converts.
Lineman Nick Dragon and linebacker Jarell Pytaluk also turned in polished efforts, as did Mcree Nyigwo and Adam Camilleri.
The juniors open with their regular season on Thursday, when they take on Vancouver College.
"They will be a much more difficult team to play against - they are well disciplined and overall a solid team," said Cents coach Simon Quinto.
The Terry Fox junior side also enjoyed a commanding win last week, downing the Mt. Douglas Rams on the weight of four scores in the first half alone.
The Ravens got a pair of rushing TDs from Jericho Mendez, who scampered two yards to pay dirt, while Sebastian Cabrera got it done on a 10-yard rush. Mike West pulled down a pair of touchdown catches, eight and 44 yards respectively, from QB Connor McKee, who also tallied a pick-six on the defensive side of the ball. Maleek Womack-Stewart also returned an interception for a touchdown to bring the first half scoreline to 30-12.
The second half featured both offences cooling off, though Cabrera picked up his second major of the day on a 27-yard run. Defensive tackle Jordan Seney put the icing on the cake by picking up a safety late in the game to give Fox the 40-12 win.
"We were nervous going into the game and [it] showed in our early execution," Fox coach Dave Lehman said in an e-mail to The NOW. "But the guys stepped up, came up strong and built a big lead by half. Mt. Doug had a really good throwing game and we had to work hard to shut that down in the second half. It was a good first game for us."
Despite what appeared to be a record-breaking day for pivot Trevor Casey, the senior Fox team was narrowly edged 44-40 by the senior Rams.
Casey collected 255 passing yards, 384 yards in individual offensive yardage and 255 total team receiving yards, numbers that break every school record since 2000.
The Ravens found themselves up 40-37 late in the game, though Mount Doug was able to mount one last stand to pick up the game-deciding major late in the contest.
Mate McLeod-Genest collected two touchdowns to go with 86 yards on 16 rushes, while Brad Lyons caught five passes for 77 yards. Adrial Sellers and Jason Shamatutu picked up Fox's other touchdowns. The seniors get back at it on Friday night at West Van, while the juniors host West Van on Thursday afternoon. Kick-off is 3: 30 p.m. at the Terry Fox oval field.