Three Lord Tweedsmuir football teams in playoffs this week

Lord Tweedsmuir cornerback Rajwant Pannu snags an errant throw off an attempted flea-flicker Nov. 8 in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal playoff game against Heritage Park. Pannu returned the ball 15 yards and the Panthers scored their first touchdown of the game on the ensuing series of downs. Tweedsmuir won the game 38-20. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Lord Tweedsmuir cornerback Rajwant Pannu snags an errant throw off an attempted flea-flicker Nov. 8 in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal playoff game against Heritage Park. Pannu returned the ball 15 yards and the Panthers scored their first touchdown of the game on the ensuing series of downs. Tweedsmuir won the game 38-20. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Quarterback Konrad Kaufman takes a hut for the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers Nov. 8 in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal playoff game against Heritage Park. LT moved on the semis with a 32-20 win in the game. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Quarterback Konrad Kaufman takes a hut for the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers Nov. 8 in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal playoff game against Heritage Park. LT moved on the semis with a 32-20 win in the game. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Lord Tweedsmuir running back Finn Meberg zigs through Heritage Park (Mission) defenders in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal game Nov. 8 at Cloverdale Athletic Park. Tweedsmuir won the game 38-20 and the Panthers now move on to face Vancouver College in the semis Nov. 15 at Vancouver College. (Photo: Malin Jordan)Lord Tweedsmuir running back Finn Meberg zigs through Heritage Park (Mission) defenders in a Grade 8 football quarterfinal game Nov. 8 at Cloverdale Athletic Park. Tweedsmuir won the game 38-20 and the Panthers now move on to face Vancouver College in the semis Nov. 15 at Vancouver College. (Photo: Malin Jordan)

With or without playoff success, it’s been a great year for all three Lord Tweedsmuir football teams, says Walter van Halst, a teacher-sponsor for the football program. Teacher-sponsors are responsible for liaising with community coaches and the school.

LT’s Grade 8, junior varsity, and senior varsity Panthers have all made the playoffs this year.

“For a public school, coming out of COVID, to have all three teams in the B.C. High School Football playoffs at the same time is remarkable,” said van Halst. “It suggests the future of the program is bright.”

Van Halst said that brightness is directly attributed to both the hard work the young Tweedy athletes put in and to the time put in by their community coaches—that is non-teacher coaches.

“This is a really powerful example about the importance of community in general and the football community in particular,” explained van Halst. “None of our coaches at any of the three levels are current teachers or staff at our school.”

He added that many parents, grads and others in the community have raised their hands to help at a time when there has been great difficulty for all schools to bring in and retain coaches.

SEE ALSO: Lord Tweedsmuir plays first ever night game on the high school’s football field

“Senior head coach Nick Kawaza has stepped up and saved our program when everyone is rebuilding after COVID,” said van Halst. “There has also been a sharp decrease in all schools and all sports in teacher involvement.”

He said recent graduates, such as Kyle Miller and Adam Berger, who played in the CFL, Haydn Stomperud and Griffin O’Connor, who played at SFU, and Michael Carter, who has been continuously involved as a player or a coach since 2009, have made big impacts as both role models for the players and as great coaches.

“Most importantly, without parents such as Bob Swing, Jay Roberts, Bruce Reid, Michael Reamsbottom, Judd Ogden, and the father-son combo of Frank and Mike Paulicelli, we simply wouldn’t have a program,” van Halst added.

“This success is a testament to the student-athletes who can be proud to have made the playoffs at all three levels,” said senior varsity head coach Nick Kawaza. “Overall, we are very happy with the program as we continue to rebuild after COVID. This season we felt we had to start almost from scratch and so we’re very happy to field three teams that can all compete in the playoffs.”

Michael Carter, varsity assistant coach and 2014 LT grad, said the Tweedsmuir and South Delta senior teams now have a budding rivalry after playing in the wildcard game for the second year in a row.

“Our meeting last year was a hard fought affair and we expect the same this time around,” Carter said. “We appreciate our players and their support systems for their dedication to our program.”

***

The Grade 8 Panthers hosted Mission’s Heritage Park Nov. 8 in a playoff quarterfinal game. The Panthers nearly doubled the Mission squad, running out a 38-20 victory at Cloverdale Athletic Park. The Grade 8s will travel to Vancouver College (4-1) Nov. 15 to face College in a Grade 8 playoff semifinal game. Kickoff is 1 p.m. The two teams previously met at Vancouver College Nov. 1, with College emerging victorious in a 12-0 game.

LT’s junior varsity squad visits Carson Graham for a 3 p.m. kickoff Thursday, Nov. 10, (after we went to press). And Tweedy’s senior varsity Panthers face South Delta Friday, Nov. 11. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

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