How did the Prince George Kodiaks fare in their first game of football?

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The BCJFC expansion team is now gearing up for the inaugural home game against Kamloops on August 6

The jitters of the opener are now gone, the Prince George Kodiaks junior football team can take what they learned in a 31-5 loss to the Valley Huskers on Saturday and use that experience to be much better prepared when she prepares to do more Prince George Sports History on August 6.

Playing their inaugural game of the BC Junior Football Conference on Saturday in Chilliwack, the Kodiaks stayed within striking distance of the lead through the first half of the game and trailed just five, down 10 -5 at intermission.

But the older, more experienced Huskers took advantage of a few errors from Kodiak and scored three unanswered touchdowns. The Huskers took advantage when Prince George starting quarterback Liam Oczkowski injured his ankle when he got tangled in a pile of bodies during a play midway through the third quarter and they exerted relentless pressure on the Kodiaks to stop them dead.

Oczkowski, 18, a six-foot-five, 210-pound graduate of All Saints High School in Calgary, was replaced by fellow Calgary product Sam Sabine, 18, who played the remainder of the game and was constantly besieged. .

“I think the team played well and we started strong,” Kodiaks general manager Ryan Bellamy said. “Certain youthful mistakes sometimes shot us in the foot and prevented us from continuing to drive or entering the end zone.

“For his first game (Oczkowski) was under a lot of pressure and he did well, his passing stats were good and he was able to go on a few plays using his feet throughout the game. He had a 20-yard run at one point and he did some effective things and played smart there, he probably played a bit above his previous category, and that helps.

“As soon as (Sabine) arrived they put even more pressure than they had before and for him it was a lot of ordeal by fire.”

Chavis Spencer of the Huskers intercepted one of Sabine’s passes and it eventually led to a touchdown in the third quarter.

The Kodiaks’ first pass reception from Oczkowski to former DP Todd Trojan Amandeep Bansal on the team’s second practice of the game covered 10 yards and it led to a 20-yard field goal from Noah Schneider of Yorkton, Sask . Schneider took over punting and kicking duties after starting kicker Jack Cochrane of Scotland strained a quadriceps (leg) in training.

A 79-yard strike from Oczkowski to wide receiver Andrew Brown of Saltcoats, Sask., pinned the Huskers deep in their own territory. The Kodiaks’ drive stalled, resulting in a roll on the downs, which led to the two-point safety in the second quarter.

The Huskers scored four touchdowns, all of which were off-passes. Starting quarterback Josh Janssen went 17 for 28 and 224 yards in the game. Receivers Dylan Manocha, David Coronodo, Payton Lake and Luc Rodrigues all found the end zone. Reece Wycke put the Huskers on the scoreboard with a 22-yard field goal on the game’s first drive.

Calgary defensive back Marcellus Pope, son of Kodiaks defensive coordinator Marvin Pope, led all tackles in unassisted tackles.

Twenty-five players on the Kodiaks’ 90-player roster name Prince George as their hometown. They will resume their training at Masich on weekday evenings, starting at 7:30 p.m.

“There are young guys playing key roles and there were definitely some nerves,” Bellamy said. “Some of them were seeing the game at this speed and intensity continuously for the first time. You can simulate that in training, but it’s not two hours, so it’s a learning curve, and they will get there.”

The Kodiaks will have almost two weeks to prepare for their next game when they open their home schedule Saturday, August 6 at Masich Place against the Kamloops Broncos (7 p.m. start).

“It’s very exciting for all of us, it’s what we’ve been building for and a lot of effort and hard work throughout the organization has gone on to make it happen and we’re really excited to be able to showcase it to Prince George,” Bellamy said.

Bellamy said Oczkowski’s hyperextended ankle injury isn’t serious enough to put him on the long injured list and expects him to be ready to return for the game against the Broncos.

All Kodiaks games will be played on Saturday nights. Other home dates on their home schedule include August 10 (Valley Huskers), September 10 (Langley Rams), September 24 (Kamloops Broncos) and October 8 (Okanagan Sun).

Season tickets for these games are available on the Tickets North website. The Kodiaks also sell tickets for individual games for $25 (main stand) or $10 (final area.

The team will resume training on weekday evenings in Masich, starting at 7:30 p.m.

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