Surrey’s high school football teams have clinched a playoff position, but all three still have something to play for in the final week of the regular season.
The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers are coming off their first loss of the Senior AAA season, but with a 5-1 (won-loss) record, can still finish atop the Eastern Conference standings with a win tomorrow at home against the 3-3 Centennial Centaurs.
Tweedsmuir fell 21-10 to the Terry Fox Ravens last Friday in Coquitlam, leaving both teams tied with the St. Thomas More Knights for first place.
Jamel Lyles rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries for the Panthers, scoring a touchdown in a six-yard run. Connor McKay kicked the convert and added a 30-yard field goal. Leading the defense with eight tackles each were Jairo Salazar, Brendan Woods and Austin Thornton, who also had a quarterback sack.
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference will get a bye through the first round of the playoffs, and advance directly to the quarterfinal round Nov. 15-16.
“Friday’s game against Centennial is huge for us,” said Panthers head coach Kurt Thornton. “A win guarantees a top-two finish, and a bye would be huge for our players and coaches as it allows us to regroup, get healthy and rested for the quarterfinals.”
Kickoff is at 3 p.m. at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Cloverdale.
“It is also the last home game for our seniors, which can always be emotional,” added Thornton.
In the Senior AA division, the Frank Hurt Hornets and Holy Cross Crusaders will decide second place in the Southern Conference Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Cross high school.
Both teams are 3-1 in league play, the Crusaders getting their third wing last weekend with a 50-6 romp over the struggling Spectrum Thunder.
Jonathon Kongbo led the Crusaders with a pair of touchdowns, one on a 55-yard run band another on an interception return. He also led the defense with a pair of sacks.
Special teams also contributed two scores, as returns by Will Gladwell on a kickoff and Sterling Hillman on a punt were for touchdowns.
“The entire defense had a very strong game,” said Crusaders coach Ken Buchan. “And the offense finally moved the ball.”
Holy Cross and the Hornets are assured of playing in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 8-9, but only the winner of Saturday’s contest could host a postseason contest.
For the Hornets, a second-place finish wold be a huge accomplishment, as the team is in its first season of Senior AA football after several years in the Tier 2 ranks.
“It’s going to be a real physical gas and a nail-biter,” said Hornets coach Duane Linnen. “But it’s just an honor to make the playoffs since we weren’t supposed to win a game this season.”
For the Crusaders, avoiding a playoff game on the road is on their mind.
“The game is for second place and a chance to host a playoff game as opposed to going on the road to Kamloops,” said Buchan. “It is also important as it is between two schools from Surrey.
“This is the last game to fine-tune things going into the playoffs, and to go in on a roll is very important.”
The Seaquam Seahawks are 1-3 going into the final week of the regular season, and need a win at home to clinch a postseason berth. They will host Spectrum on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.