The Langley Stampeders are relishing their role as underdogs.
For the third straight playoff game, the midget Stamps upset a higher seed and their reward is a spot in the provincial championship final this Sunday at McLeod Athletic Park.
Two weeks ago, Langley beat the first seed and defending provincial champion White Rock Titans in the quarter-finals.
And then on Saturday at Maple Ridge’s Samuel Roberts Technical, the Stampeders faced another tough test against the second-seed Ridge Meadows Knights with a spot in the provincial final on the line.
And after a close first half — Langley led 7-3 — the Stampeders took control in the second to win 32-17.
“This is the first time all year we have a full, healthy roster,” said Langley coach Shane Thompson.
“These guys have played shorthanded all year and for them to get healthy and go on this roll is a testament to the character on this team.”
The Stampeders struggled in the regular season, posting a 4-6 record. But the playoffs have been a different story as Langley has won their three games by a combined score of 74-31.
In Saturday’s semifinal game, the Knights took a 3-0 and it took until late in the first half for Langley to respond.
Quarterback Cory McMurchy scored from two yards out on a bootleg, capping off a 71-yard drive which featured three times the Stamps having to overcome first-and-20 situations because of holding penalties.
But while the first half was a defensive struggle, the second half was all Stamps as they erupted for 25 points.
The defence got the ball rolling with a fumble recovery, which McMurchy turned into a 37-yard touchdown strike to Ryan Porteous.
McMurchy then booted a 21-yard field goal to make it 17-3 and after the Knights cut the lead to 17-10, Langley killed any momentum their opponent may have generated by delivering a clock-eating 73-yard drive which was capped off by Reagan Doucette running the ball in from 10 yards out.
And on the team’s next possession, Sameer Nasiri scampered to the end zone on a 61-yard run. The Knights then added a late touchdown with 32 seconds remaining.
A big key to the victory was the play of the defensive line as Jon Miao, Sukh Toor, Shaiheem Charles-Brown and Brayden Norcliffe completely shut down the Meadow Ridge running game.
For the offence, Daniel Adimora came up with a couple of key catches, while Kalen McMurchy and Bryan Desmarais contributed to the running game.
The Stampeders will face the sixth-seed Coquitlam Falcons on Sunday (Dec. 2) in the provincial final at McLeod Park. Game time is 4:30 p.m.
The Falcons were 7-3 in the regular season.
McLeod Park will be hosting three other provincial championship games on Sunday.
At 9:30 a.m., the Abbotsford Falcons face the Cloverdale Bobcats in the atom title game.
The junior bantam game at 11:30 a.m. features the West Kelowna Sundevils and the Coquitlam Vikings.
And the bantam final pits the Abbotsford Falcons versus the South Delta Rams. That game goes at 2 p.m.