A superstar doesn’t necessarily guarantee a championship; but it sure helps. While watching PG Bowl V, it was crystal clear to me that the difference in the Northern High School Football League championship game was the Nechako Valley Vikings possessed a player the calibre of Mike Cogan, a luxury the College Heights Cougars did not own.
Cogan was a one-man wrecking crew in front of roughly 400 fans at Masich Place Stadium. He finished the game with three touchdowns, one on a 12-yard run in the first half, another on a 55-yard punt return in the third quarter, and he completed the hat trick with a 31-yard scamper for a major in the fourth quarter. If this wasn’t enough, Cogan kicked two field goals, including an eye-opening 46 yarder. He also saw some duty in the defensive secondary in leading the Vikings to a 32-13 pasting of the Cougars.
“It means the world to me, I mean, we fought for three hard years, and last year, this team (CHSS) stopped us in the semi-finals, and we just had passion and we had heart,” stated a jubilant Cogan moments after his team gave Nechako Valley its first high-school football title. He was also quick to praise his teammates for helping him to success. “It was all thanks to my blockers,” said the Grade 12 student, who played soccer and rugby in England, before moving to Vanderhoof five years ago.
NVSS head coach Bo Jacobsen certainly didn’t want to single Cogan out, but when asked about his powerful running back he couldn’t hold back the praise by stating, “He is outstanding. All of our backfield is outstanding. Mike Cogan is a great kicker. He can go to any level he wants to as a kicker. A 46-yard field goal in a high school game, that’s pretty darn good. He can play anywhere.”
Indeed, his football future looks promising. “I am hoping to make a Junior team (next season) as a kicker. Hopefully go to a college,” said Cogan.
In addition, there was one other crucial factor that was very noticeable in the game. NVSS had a larger and much more vocal support than College Heights. With cheerleaders leading the way, they constantly screamed “our house” and it certainly seemed to fire up the Vanderhoof kids. “They’ve been great. They come to every game and support us. We love them,” said Cogan. “The way the fans have taken to this game and supported us, it was outstanding,” added Jacobsen.
It still may take football a few years to catch up to the popularity of basketball or hockey in Vanderhoof, but even the coach recognizes the strides the sport is making. “To see it embraced in a town like Vanderhoof that loves its sports is awesome. I wish we could spread it to other communities and have them have a taste of this and what this feels like. It’s great coming here to P.G. and playing under the lights. It’s an awesome feeling,” said Jacobsen.
Nechako Valley still has one game remaining, and will represent the North at the Tier 2 Provincials November 15 in Vancouver. The Vikings will be huge underdogs, especially since they will have to adapt to rules changes, the biggest of which will be going from three downs to four. However, nothing can take away from the excitement that this local championship created.
High school football, soccer and volleyball end this month and then it’s on to basketball. Whether it’s the raw emotion, the battle of the game, the intrigue of the participants, the growling of the coaches, the enthusiasm of the crowd, the “high fives” on the sidelines or the food being “gobbled up”, there remains something special about teenagers enjoying the highs and lows in the wonderful world of sports. With memories and friendships that can last a lifetime, there really isn’t any substitution.
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And in case you missed it:
A 62-year-old Michigan man died of an apparent heart attack moments after bowling a perfect 300 game. His teammates are distraught his life wasn’t spared.
Hartley Miller is the sports director for radio stations 94X and the Wolf@97fm. He also writes for Opinion250. Hartley can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.