Cougars advance to provincials as Bighorns forfeit playoff game

The Penticton Cougars (2-6) are going to provincials, but not the way they wanted.

The Penticton Cougars (2-6) are going to provincials, but not the way they wanted.

Ready to face the Columbia Valley (Invermere) Bighorns (6-2) in Invermere on Nov. 6, Cougars coach Terence Westera was disappointed that the Bighorns were forced to forfeit.

The Bighorns had their usual set of referees, but they were not certified.

“Last time we were there they pretty much had parents out of the stands (officiating),” said Westera. “It was a very one-sided game (the Bighorns won 28-7). A bunch of players got hurt. Four players suffered head injuries and one went to the hospital. It wasn’t a very safe game. I made myself very clear that they had to have certified officials because we had to.”

Before the game, Westera approached the officials and asked for their certificates. None were able to provide papers.

“We have a local referee crew which is basketball referees,” Bighorns coach Bruce Marlow told the Columbia Valley Echo. “I have been very fortunate to have these guys ref all season long.

“They were all at the game when it started,” he continued. “Penticton decided that if we did not have certified football referees, they did not want to play.League referees were requested once we knew we would be hosting our first playoff game in Invermere. We were unable to get the refs from the Okanagan so we had to go with our referees.”

Next up are the Vernon Magnums in the B.C. Nine-Man Midget Championships Saturday (3 p.m.) at Thompson Rivers University Hillside Stadium in Kamloops. Westera remains confident his squad can win despite not having won any of the regular season matches. The Magnums won the last game 35-12.

“The only reason that we lost is because they had a large roster of 40 kids,” he said. “We had 21. Players just got worn down. In provincials they can only use 25 players. I think that will go in our favour big time. We had them on the ropes for the first two quarters.”

In practice, the Cougars will focus on blocking and outside containment of the Magnums running game.

“They are big and strong obviously,” he said. “We have always kind of had a small team so we’re used to that now. They are really good at running the ball, especially in the middle and onto the outside. They are good at blocking. I’m not worried about their passing game whatsoever. We have played them twice now and it’s a non-issue. I think we have picked them off five or six times over two games.”

The championship game between the Magnums and Cougars can be watched online at bcfootball.tv.