Remis Tshiovo’s parents came a long way to watch him play ball, and they weren’t disappointed.
Making the long trek from Winnipeg, Shelley and Patrick started Saturday morning in Calgary.
They drove all day, arriving just before the 7 p.m. start of a B.C. Football Conference clash between Tshiovo’s Valley Huskers and the visiting Kamloops Broncos.
“They surprised me,” Tshiovo admitted. “It was big to see them right before the kickoff, and it definitely gave me more motivation to play with.
“It’s been a month and a half or two months since I’ve seen them or had anything at all from home, so it was really great to have that feeling.”
Their son was one of the best Huskers in a 38-17 win at Exhibition Stadium, turning in his best statistical outing of the young season.
Tshiovo caught four passes for 73 yards, leading a Husker offence that rolled up 488 net yards.
“We executed well and we talked a lot,” Tshiovo said afterwards. “It’s been a problem the last few weeks where we haven’t communicated well and we’ve had some busted plays.
“There were still a few in this game, but we communicated a lot better.”
Big-armed quarterback Julian Wytinck led the charge as his surprising team improved to 3-1, completing 22 of 36 passes for 411 yards.
His favourite targets were Anthony Dyck (nine catches, 159 yards) and Brandon Poulin (six catches, 123 yards).
Poulin caught the first of three Wytinck TD tosses, hauling in an eight yard strike late in the first quarter.
Dyck had two touchdown receptions.
A nine yarder early in the second quarter gave his team a 17-7 lead and his second TD wrapped up the scoring.
Running back Keegan Vicklund rushed for a pair of majors. He churned out 50 yards on 10 carries to lead the ground game. Rookie Von Richardson added 20 yards on seven carries.
As a team the Huskers generated 83 yards on 24 rushes.
“We’ve had a lot of offensive linemen moving around, bouncing from place to place,” Tshiovo said, explaining the lack of a consistent ground game for an otherwise explosive Husker offence. “We dressed nine or 10 for this game. I think we just need to get some chemistry within that unit, and once we get that we’ll be rolling.”
The Husker defence had its issues.
Bronco tailback Anrew Pocrnic was a handful, breaking off several big runs and finishing with 127 yards on 10 carries. Kamloops quarterback Rylan Matters threw for 248 yards (17 of 29) and scrambled for another 69 as the Broncos rolled up 439 yards of net offence.
Stepping onto the field he called home for so many years with the GW Graham Grizzlies, Treyvon Walsh played his first game for the Huskers at defensive back.
He contributed a solo tackle and a crucial pass breakup, knocking a ball out of the mitts of Bronco receiver, and former Chilliwack Giants teammate Thijs Duineveld, when Kamloops was trying to stage a fourth quarter rally.
“It was tough watching the team the last few weeks even though we were winning, and I really wanted to be out there,” said Walsh, who spent the last two seasons with the University of Alberta Golden Bears and missed time early this season recovering from a sprained ankle. “It was good getting out there with the boys. It felt really good just running around.”
Getting tagged for 439 yards by Kamloops isn’t a good look for the D, but Walsh said it was more about what the Huskers did than anything the Broncos had cooking.
“I thought we executed our game plan. We were pretty sound and we didn’t have any busts, but we came out a little flat,” Walsh noted. “We were coming off that big win (vs the Okanagan Sun) last week, with high expectations, and luckily our offence was clicking right off the bat.
“We did step it up in the second half, only giving them seven points. We start slow but we finish strong every time. We’re a fourth quarter team.”
With four weeks in the books the Huskers are tied for first in the BCFC with the Vancouver Island Raiders.
But their home-heavy schedule now gives way to a road-heavy slate.
After a bye week this week they’ll have three straight away games at Kamloops (Sept. 8), at Langley (Sept. 15) and at Kelowna (Sept. 22).
Their final home game will be Sept. 29 versus the Westshore Rebels, then they’ll finish with two more road games, at Victoria (Oct. 6) and at Nanaimo (Oct. 13).
“I’m finally back on the field and I don’t want to take a break, but we do have some guys who need to get healthy,” Walsh said. “We’ll work hard in the bye week, add some new stuff and be ready to go.
“I’m happy we’ve had this good start, and I’m not too worried about going on the road.
“Road trips are where you get a lot of memories, so I’m actually looking forward to it.”