Sunday, November 29, 2009


Congratulations to Windsor! Through superb coaching and a tremendous effort by the Duke players, AA's winningest program is back in another Subway Bowl. Mt. Douglas has run the table to get there and an undefeated season in AA football is quite an accomplishment.

These two programs have met before in Coastal Conference regular season play with Mt. Douglas emerging the decisive winner of that contest. The Ram Victory is going to be a bit of a psychological hurdle for the Mt. Douglas squad as no matter what the coaches say, the players will have the big win in the back of their minds as they prepare for this coming weekend's contest. Another hurdle for Mt. Douglas will be travelling to Langley from the Island whereas the Dukes have maybe a 45 minute commute to the game.

Beyond these challenges, the cards line up for Mt. Douglas in most areas of the game.

Size: Mt. Douglas
Speed: Mt. Douglas
Quarterback: Mt. Douglas
Physicality: Mt. Douglas
and so-on and so-on.

The game will hinge on big plays. Mt. Douglas has featured quick-strike, big plays all year long. Windsor is a grinder that makes very few mistakes. In short, the Dukes do not find ways to beat themselves. I think that for the Dukes to have a chance, they have to follow their playoff recipe to-date, which is to keep things close to the late minutes and then be opportunistic with their opponent's mistakes. Mt. Douglas on the other hand, needs to get big separation on the scoreboard as early as possible. The Rams can score on the ground and in the air with equal prowess. Windsor is going to find it hard to match-up everywhere at once.

GI's Pick: Mt. Douglas has too many ways to score for the Dukes to keep-up. It has been a great run Windsor, but it ends on Saturday. Mt. Douglas 26, Windsor 13.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


And then there were four!

This past weekend saw grade 11/12 HS kids do what they do best; which is surprise, overachieve and create their own special brand of magic on the gridiron. Dang this game is fun!

Sands and Windsor, I gotta hand it to you guys and your coaches! Well done. I can honestly say that your upset victories have put a blemish on GI's 09 season-long string of very accurate picks. Thats why the game is played eh, the pundits cannot make a tackle, a block, a catch etc. It is up to the 22 players on the field to do that come game-time!

This weekend's games AA


12:30 p.m. -- Mt. Douglas vs. Rick Hansen
3 p.m. -- Sands vs. Windsor

Mt. Douglas vs Rick Hansen

The two remaining "Heavy Weight" rosters collide. This is a whole lot like Foreman-Ali or Frazier-Ali back when Boxing was still real.

Soooo: Tail of the Tape

Size: A slight edge to Mt. Douglas
Speed: Mt. Douglas
Depth: Mt. Douglas
Defense: Mt. Douglas (Front-7 in particular)
Offense: Rick Hansen
Big Play via the Air: Mt. Douglas
Short Passing: Rick Hansen
Coaching Depth by Position: Mt. Douglas
Head Coach: I like both for different reasons.
Intangibles:Rick Hansen
QB: Rick Hansen
O. Line: Draw
D. Line: Rick Hansen
LB's: Draw
DB's: Mt. Douglas
RB's: Draw
Rcvrs: Mt. Douglas
Kicking Game: Rick Hansen
Punting Game: Mt. Douglas by a massive landslide****take note of this come gameday!
Players who originated from "out-of catchment..g.9 yr." The all-star factor...Mt. Douglas

All year, Mt. Douglas has dominated the scores with the exception of a red hot early season South Delta team. Mt. Douglas has won in all kinds of weather. Hansen has a ton of character and has won close games. Mt. Douglas has not played from behind or more than a score behind this year. When they get punched hard in the mouth so-to-speak, or are faced with the unexpected in terms of offensive formations/schemes they wobble a bit mentally.

GI's Pick: Do the math and look at the entire season/post-season's body of work. Mt. Douglas will win by 18 plus after being challenged early. This is essentially home field for Hansen and the lack of a long travel day will work in their favor at first. Then the cream rises.

Windsor vs Sands

Hey, Holy Smokes...two small schools playing each other in a semi-final game!! I'll be damned!! Yeah, one of these teams got some great enrollment breaks the last couple years at JV but still, it is a small school match-up which warms the AA heart!

Well Sands, you are now healthy, you guys have gotten the post-season religion and you just whacked AAA dropdown S. Delta convincingly. Looks pretty good for you guys. In the back of your coaching staff's heads there is a clock ticking. No JV squad this year means you have this year and next to claw at the championship. Your colleagues at Mt. Douglas may have a decisive say on this year's end-game as you taught them so well. I digress.! We all stand in awe. Football, of all the schoolastic sports, is the game where a coach/staff can have the biggest influence in a game's outcome once the first whistle is blown. Coach Schuman/Wilson's double headed monster of prep and technical prowness is unmatched. Now fellas, you are entering a game where when you look back on it, you will have to do/have done your best work as coaches. Your starting RB is banged-up and here is the true test of "The Power of Program" as a nameless, faceless, young Duke will have to step-up and answer the call. I believe without a doubt that this will happen.

The tale of the Tape

Size: Sands
Speed: Slight Edge to Sands
Coaching: Dukes (Coach U is good but two good coaches beat one)
Toughness: I like both for different reasons. Sands is big-time physical, Windsor is mentally tough in the close ones.
Discipline: Windsor
Offensive Line: Windsor
Defensive Line: Sands
RB's: Sands
LB's: Sands
Rcvrs: Windsor
DB's: Windsor
QB's: Draw
Kicking Game: Windsor
Punting Game: Windsor
Intangibles: Windsor
Players who originated from "out-of catchment g. 9 yr." The all-star factor...Sands
Previous Common Opponents: Seaquam dusted Sands. Windsor just beat Seaquam.

GI's Pick: Sands will come out and try to truck the Dukes. They may do this at first, but will get bogged down in the trenches by mid-second quarter. The Dukes will have found holes in the Scorpion O and D through thorough scouting and will take their shots on both sides of the ball. Windsor by 4.

This weekend's games AAA

5:30 p.m. -- Centennial vs. New Westminster
8 p.m. -- Vancouver College vs. W.J. Mouat

I have posted the AAA games just to make a point regarding an earlier post on this site. Sure enough, the "AAA window dressing" bowed out and the perennial AAA powers are now in the semi-finals. Again, this illustrates very well the illusion that AAA ball is balanced. It is again this year obvious that there is a super-conference lurking inside a hubris of teams that don't have a prayer to make it to the Subway Bowl. It looks good in the newspaper to portray AAA as a provincial league, but that is a myth. Every year, the whitewash gets peeled away and then gets repainted. Keep drinking the Kool-Aide guys, most of you will never get a sniff at the Subway Bowl. It is is intellectually dishonest or flat out ignorant to look your players in the eye come early September and tell them they have a realistic chance of going to the big show. Sit down this Dec. look in the mirror and ask yourself if you want to continue with the status quo? Quietly going along is the equivelent of support. There is no shame in asking questions or seeking to improve the formula. Why let others lead by default? Be right as opposed to being liked.

All Rants aside, now that the legitimate super-conference teams have emerged from the smoke and mirrors here are GI's picks:

New Westminster vs Centennial

All things considered, the athletes match-up well and hey, neither team arrived at this game because the coaching has been poor. Mother Nature will have her say this weekend and now she has decided to let the Pacific Northwest act like the Pacific Northwest, we will find out which team can play wind blown, amphibian football better. I like New West because their system can roll without run-pass balance better than Centennials. Wing-T passes are high percentage and the PAP is built-in from the start of spring practice. Centennial will have to do some playbook pruning and the net result will be less grass for the New West defenders to have to cover.

GI's Pick: New Westminster by 10

Vancouver College vs WJ Mouat

Terrific Match-Up here gang! Both squads can run the football with anyone and both are loaded with speed and athletes!! At face value, picking a winner in this game might as well come down to a coin-flip. In fact, to paraphrase John Candy from back in the day, a lot of people figure they have as much of a chance picking a winnerin this game as they do playing a game of pick-up sticks with their butt cheeks! To get a hint at what could unfold, it is a good idea to turn back the page to a couple of weeks ago when New West lost to the Irish at O'Hagen. Mouat has similar offensive
DNA in their system and VC knows how to defend it. I think this is where the deadlock starts to crumble. Size to the Irish, speed is a draw and coaching...Denis Kelley is darn near peerless but, he runs only .5 of the ball (offense). The Irish system is superb and Coach Bernett is underrated. He gets to the big dance with greater frequency than anyone and though the big game has been elusive, the body of work to get there speaks for itself.

GI's Pick: When this one shakes down, it will be very close. If the Irish can weather some big-shots in the trick play category and Mouat offensive wrinkles, they will relentlessly and surely gain the upper-hand in this contest. Irish by 8.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GI's Quarter-Final Picks


For fans of Darwinism is there anything quite like the playoffs? What hardy physical trait will propel one squad forward over its adversary? What offensive or defensive trait gives one opponent a competitive advantage over the other? Will brains trump brawn on a given day? Will one team thrive in adverse weather while another falters???

Well one thing is for certain, the ol 19th century bearded fellow who tipped everything on its ear would certainly find his interest tweaked in the analogy.

Sailing upon the HMS GI Beagle, there is time by the candlelight to pen a few thoughts on this weekend.

GI's Picks

Seaquam vs Windsor

This will easily be the best game of the weekend. These two teams can and do run the ball! Windsor beware however! Seaquam can chuck it better than you may think and if they think they can spread it out on you, they will. Don't put your defensive eggs in one basket. Seaquam, beware! If you have any defensive cracks in your armour Coach Schuman will find them and blow them apart. Windsor is also not all about I-Backs and smashing the ball. The difference in this game in many observer circles is thought to be the play up front. Seaquam is stronger and more physical. Windsor is better technically and adjusts far better during the game than their opponent will. The battle at the LOS is going to be a relative draw. The difference according to GI is going to be the vertical passing game and broken plays.

GI's Pick: Windsor may actually lead this game on the scoreboard but does not have as many "big play guys" as Seaquam. A tight game will get away from the Dukes.

Seaquam by 10

Rick Hansen vs OKM

Hansen has a ton of momentum and will not get surpised this week. OKM is good, well coached and has some very talented players. Hansen is however, going to be overwhelming up-front and this will make for a steady clock-munching accumulation of points on the scoreboard.

GI's Pick: Hurricanes by 28

Mt. Douglas vs Mission

Great job Coach Watrin last Friday vs the Royals. Now you and the Roadrunners are going to face by far the toughest opponent you have seen all year. The Mt. Douglas Rams are well coached and have the greatest accumulation of size and talent in AA ball. Unless they seriously mis-step this weekend, the Rams will bowl over their Mission opponents. Mt. Douglas is multi-dimensional on offense and defensively they match Mission's speed while seriously outsizing the Roadrunners.

GI's Pick: The football math does not add-up for Mission. Mt. Douglas by 34.

Sands vs S. Delta

Sands is big and strong, but will not win a game versus a dynamic team like South Delta by running Dive, Iso, Toss and PAP off of them from I backs. The Scorpions look mid-level on the tough scale as well. S. Delta can play smashmouth and on offense they are extremely well coached, prepped and guided by a hit ya quick playbook. Make no mistake, I am not bagging on Sands here, they are just outmatched. Next year the Scorpions are scarey. This year they are bugs on South Delta's pavement and the SunDevils wear big boots.

GI's Pick:
S. Delta by 22 plus by air, land and if you could score using the ocean..sea.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Rick Hansen vs John Barsby:

The number two Valley seed Rick Hansen Hurricanes are heavy favorites headed into this contest against Nanaimo's John Barsby Bulldogs. Hansen has a terrific mix of power football and high percentage passing along with rock-ribbed defense. The Hurricanes are red-hot headed into this contest coming off of a series of big conference wins. Barsby is a physical squad that has played competitive ball vs the big boys in its conference but has not found the end-zone often enough to win the close games thus far. There will be no second chances for Barsby this time around and they will have to get more production offensively in order to prevail.

GI's Pick: Hansen has been very consistent, largely error free and they are playing their best ball right now. This makes them heavy favorites vs JB. Hansen by 18

Handsworth vs Mission:

This will be a great game if Mission can get its offense rolling. This is a big "if" as Handsworth has been ratcheting up its defense since mid-season culminating in a terrific game vs a potent S. Delta offense this past weekend. Offensively, Handsworth is not explosive, but, they are superb grinders who are opportunistic with the big play when it presents itself. Watching two HS greats like Coach Prepchuck and Coach Watrin go at it is worth the price of admission as well.

GI's Pick: Handsworth is a much, much better team than in mid-season. Royals by 16

Pitt Meadows vs Windsor:

Can anyone out-prep the coach Schuman/Wilson combo? Have not seen that yet. Windsor is flat out superior up front and will chip away offensively until Pitt's dam breaks. Pitt is scrappy and does not have a lot of quit in them. This game will be one of those clock eating affairs where Windsor has the long drives and plays the field position game with specials. Pitt will live and die with the big play and could threaten if Windsor loses the turnover battle.

GI's Pick: Windsor by 18

OKM vs Correlieu

Correlieu is a big school that brings a punishing run-game to the dance. OKM has played and quite frankly dominated in a run heavy league this year. The OKM passing game is way more sophisticated than anything the boys from up-North have faced all year long and this will be their downfall. OKM will hang-up some big points offensively and ought to at least slow down the Correlieu ground game enough to get some separation on the scoreboard.

GI's Pick: OKM by 24

Sands vs Norkam

Congrats Norkam for making it this far! Two years of playoffs for your sr.'s is nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately it will all end on this weekend for the Saints. Sands is just too big and strong to be stopped and will be playing its best power running football in the best power running football weather of the season. Defensively the Scorpions can play with Norkam's style of game and the Scorpions will score often and early during this contest. The big evener in this game could be turnovers and some big plays through the air for Norkam. It is high school ball and you just never, ever know with 16/17 year olds.

GI's Pick: Sands by 35

Friday, November 6, 2009

2010 Tiering and Alignments

Greetings All,

BC High School Football is evolving at a rapid pace and as with all evolutionary change, there are winners and losers. Without some forsight and stewardship, a form of Football Darwinism sets in that at times rational,can and ought to be tweaked to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of programs.

At present we have a numbers based tiering system that is archaic (AA and AAA cut-off at 300 boys g. 11/12 dates back to pre-1995...yep over fifteen years ago)and is loosely applied (we keep finding exceptions to the numbers and granting "stays of execution" so-to-speak.)

I am going to forward the idea that the 300 mark for AA and AAA cutoff is too high and that the problems we are encountering will only worsten as a result.

Firstly, lets talk AAA ball as it currently exists. There are two definite tiers within the current group. There are the elite public schools with numbers exceeding 400 boys g. 11/12 (and very good coaches to accompany them) along with the Catholic schools with their tradition, alumni base and well established ratlines for players to follow to gain entry. These schools also have first rate coaching staffs with great continuity in terms of staff turnover. It is a winning combination and no slight to any of these afformentioned programs for their hard-work and program building prowness.

The second tier within AAA ball is window dressing to make the league seem like a more legitimate provincial entity when it is not. This window dressing is composed of public schools in the Interior and Lower Mainland that earnestly try, but, by virtue of a variety of factors from school size to geographic isolation, have not consistently demonstrated an ability to compete at the elite levels of AAA. In fact, none of them have made a Subway Bowl appearance (Hansen excepted) in over two decades! Quite frankly, it is pretentious to think of this as a uniform group of teams in a homogenous tier.

At the other end of our current tiering system there is Tier 2. As a stop gap attempt to ressucitate faltering programs and eliminate the impact of bye games due to folding/plain old chickening out of a tough match, this tier was created. Also it was a great way to ease an entirely new conference (North) into existence. The problem now with tier 2 is as follows: It is uneven and will become more uneven as teams attempting to escape their proper numbers tier arrive and hybernate. Worse yet, if the present trend of this tier growing in numbers of programs continues, we will in effect be running a expanding and essentially community football league within our ranks in the guise of HS ball. Worst of all, BCSSFA could wind-up forming a financial addiction to the league fees gathered from this expanding group and then begin to conciously or sub-conciously make decisions based on dollars as opposed to reason. Tier 2 is a good idea but it should be strictly limited in terms of its scope. A short term HS Football triage/recovery center would be a good description.

This year, at AA, the league almost got it right. There were many competitive games (but not enough) in a league that was fairly balanced. I would advocate that with a further adjustment in 2010 we will arrive at a very good model for BC High School Football to follow into the next decade.

What Follows is "The Gridiron Paper"

Football Schools and 2009/10 numbers of Boys G. 11 and 12

1. Kelowna 565
2. New Westminster 564
3. Mt. Boucherie 516
4. Rutland 492
5. Terry Fox 490
6. Belmont 483
7. Centennial 478
8. WJ Mouat 403
9. Pinetree 396
10. West Vancouver 371
11. Penticton 368
12. Earl Marriot 365
13. Salmon Arm 359
14. Prince George 357
15. Mt. Baker 354
16. Langley 351
17. Correlieu 345
18. Abbottsford Collegiate 326
19. GP Vanier 325
20. South Kamloops 322
21. Burnaby Central 322
22. Vancouver College 320
23. Lord Tweedsmuir 319
24. Carson Graham 319
25. Moscrop 298
26. Handsworth 278
27. Seaquam 278
28. Howe Sound 273
29. Mount Douglas 269
30. South Delta 263
31. Rick Hansen 261
32. Frank Hurt 261
33. Timberline 259
34. Ballenas 256
35. Kelley Road 241
36. Nanaimo District 236
37. Pitt Meadows 230
38. Mission 222
39. Windsor 215
40. Hugh Boyd 214
41. Vernon 212
42. Okanagen Mission 205
43. Clarence Fulton 197
44. Gulf Islands 189
45. Dutchess Park 185
46. Mark Isfeld 184
47. Sands 179
48. College Heights 178
49. Edward Milne 170
50. Holy Cross 163
51. W.L. Seaton 159
52. Kalmalka 157
53. John Barsby 153
54. Valleyview 149
55. Westsyde 146
56. Nechako Valley 135
57. St. Thomas More 127
58. Notre Dame 114

AAAA (Catholic Schools and Elite Public Schools)

Vancouver College
Notre Dame
St. Thomas More
Terry Fox
New Westminster
WJ Mouat
Holy Cross

AAA (261 and up)


Mt. Boucherie
Salmon Arm
South Kamloops


Lord Tweedsmuir
Rick Hansen
Earl Marriot
Mt. Douglas
South Delta
Abbottsford Collegiate


Carson Graham
West Vancouver
G.P. Vanier (Home Heavy Schedule to balance travel)
Howe Sound

AA (260 Boys G. 11/12)


Prince George
Kelley Road
College Heights
Dutchess Park
Nechako Valley

** PG and Correlieu: top record goes to Interior Wildcard AAA game.


Okanagen Mission
Clarence Fulton
WL Seaton


John Barsby
Hugh Boyd
Pitt Meadows

Tier 2


Nanaimo District
EJ Milne
Mark Isfeld
Gulf Islands
Burnaby Central
Frank Hurt
Plus expansion teams

Interior Exhibition Squads
Mt. Baker

Looking at this alignment you can see that the competitive and geographic balance is superb. You can also see that there is room to add programs as they enter the league as well as a Tier 2 safety valve that is functional for those in crisis.

The AAA group will now have a competitive playoff and a realistic opportunity to play great, meaningful league and playoff contests while the elite can play at the games widely acknowledged and celebrated pinnacle. AA ball will feature teams with a narrower spectrum of school enrollments as well with superb competitive balance. Lastly, AA will not be fussing about "AAA dropdowns" and in fact there will be way less of a stimulus for these "dropdowns" to occur as AAA will be so inclusive and competitive. Tier 2 will not be a lure either as all the leagues will be competitive.

This is the way to go folks. The current system is very flawed and has alignments that are out of touch with the idea of real competition. Time for new thinking!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

GI's Week 9 Picks

Week 9

Friday, November 6th

Ballenas at Windsor

This will be a very, very good game! The match-ups are good for Ballenas on the perimeter and the battle in the trenches could be a stalemate. Ballenas has better team speed than Windsor as well. The Dukes however, can play the inside game on both sides of the ball like no one else this year. Weather is going to be a big factor in this game!

GI’s Pick: Windsor by 12 in clock-munching fashion.

Rick Hansen at Mission

OK gang, we now have a superb regional rivalry in place between these two programs. The winner of this game will be the number two seed out of the Valley Conference. A few weeks back this was an easy pick to make, but no longer as the Roadrunners have demonstrated great weekly improvement across their mid-to late season schedule. Still you have to have the horses and Hansen seems to have a few more than the boys in green and white.

GI’s Pick: This game could go Mission’s way with some help from the turnover-gods but that is not a certainty. The Hurricanes are also getting better and turning into a category 4 storm. Hansen by 18

South Delta at Handsworth

Upset alert! Yep you read it here. Handsworth is making huge strides towards post-season form and S. Delta though rested, is going to have some bye week rust on em. Now lets be clear, S. Delta has bigger, faster and stronger athletes than Handsworth and that is going to be a massive obstacle for the Royals to overcome. We have all seen this scenario before when Lord Tweedsmuir lost the final to an outmatched Handsworth squad. So here is how I see it: If Handsworth wins the turnover battle, gets S. Delta's offensive number for the day and makes a couple big plays offensively they then have a shot at a victory by the narrowest of margins. If, if, if....

GI's Pick: S. Delta is just plain ol better from an athlete by athlete perspective. Coach Moon and co are no slouches either. S. Delta by 16.

Mt. Douglas at Belmont

Now this game is going to be a reflection of just how bad Mt. Douglas wants to put a stamp on their dominance over the city of Victoria’s gridiron scene. No doubt in my mind that the Rams will light-up Belmont and thrash them about. Belmont on the other hand usually turns in a tough game against their cross-town nemesis.

GI’s Pick: Rams by 48

Saturday, November 7th

Mt. Baker at Norkam

Norkam has too much for poor ol Mt. Baker in every facet of the game. If Mt. Baker shows they will get whumped but good.

GI’s Pick: Norkam by 36

Okanagen Mission at Clarence Fulton

OKM is now the top rail on the interior fence so-to-speak. They are prohibitive favorites in this contest with the only thing against them being that they have to travel on Saturday to play the Maroons. Fulton will give a good account of themselves throughout but they are simply overmatched athletically.

GI’s Pick: OKM by 17

Hugh Boyd at Seaquam

The Trojans are fighting for their playoff lives in this game. They are coming off of a big win vs Sands and will be hanging it all out vs the division leading Seaquam squad. Now folks say that having clinched the divisional title, Seaquam will be resting-up and laying down for this game. Not true, not true by a big stretch. Coach Pechet is not only a competitor but he also knows that you begin your next game playing like you finished your last. Seaquam will be playing to win and winning is pretty much all they have done this year.

GI’s Pick: Seaquam by 14

Langley at Sands

Sands has certainly learned that AA ball is no cakewalk and have suffered some ego stinging losses thus far this year. Fact is, those losses have been by very close scoring margins and the Scorpions are a very dangerous squad. Langley on the other hand is going through continued growing pains as a program as it struggles to get its feet under it from a competitive standpoint. The Saints are in a position of being able to see their breakthrough to the next level but just falling short. If Langley comes together and plays as a unified unit, this game will be closer than some expect. If players desert “the cause” due to a lack of playoff opportunity it could be a horrible blowout. The coaches and teammates of the Saints deserve better than a half-hearted shot.

GI’s Pick: Sands by 24

Pitt Meadows at Abbottsford Collegiate

Pitt has been rock-steady all season and has posted game performances against very tough opponents when those match-ups occurred. This program is headed up. Abbottsford is giving its best week-to-week and gaining valuable competitive experience as a program headed into the 2010 campaign. Pitt is ahead of the curve in this one and the score will bear them out.

GI’s Pick: Pitt by 26