Week Seven: Days of Decision
GI's AA Top Five
4. John Barsby
GI's Tier 2 Top Five
3. Frank Hurt
4. Robert Bateman
5. Nanaimo District
Week Six In Review
The Coastal Division continued to tear itself to shreds hi-lited by Seaquam's dismantling of Sands on Saturday and a South Delta sinking of the Whalers on their respective home fields. The Mainland Division played out much as expected with Windsor narrowly surviving a Marauder assault, Mission carving up Abbey, and Handsworth bringin some BC love down to SanDiego. Rick Hansen needed a great effort to get past Langley as well and the Hurricanes are still alive in the playoff hunt. The Interior gave us a Valleyview upset over their OKM nemisis and yep, they "showed" ol GI that he had better pay closer attention to Viking ops on future Fridays and Saturdays! Up in Prince George country, the table has been set for this coming weekend's first place showdown between Vanderhoof's favorite sons and the PGSS Polars as both squads secured victory and an unblemished divisional record.
Tier 2 action was what it should be this past weekend with a whole lot of hard-fought one touchdown differentials on the scoreboard. Belmont kept their league record perfect narrowly edging Timberline on Friday while up Island Milne and Nanaimo District won close games vs Gulf Islands and Vanier respectively. On the Mainland the playoff picture got scrambled like a flipped over Risk board when Bateman and Frank Hurt thoroughly trampled Moscrop and Howe Sound. It looks like the divisional race in that conference is going to be unclear until week nine. Gotta say, things are surely interesting in 2010.
GI's Week Seven Picks
Thursday, 21 October
Dutchess Park at Kelley Road: The Condors are smiling after last weekends win but Kelley Road looms large in their collective headlights. The Roadrunners played tough in their loss vs an undefeated PGSS squad and quite simply have more horses than the men in gold and black. Gotta give this one to Kelley Road on the strength of their offensive backfield.
GI's Pick: Kelley Road by 12
Friday, 22 October
Earl Marriot at Rick Hansen: A good exhibition pick-up for Hansen and Marriot. Late season bye weeks are bad mojo in terms of interrupting momentum and Hansen has been gaining some of late. This game will be close for four quarters as both programs have a fairly recent history playing one another and similar rosters in terms of athleticism. Earl Marriot is more rested and that could be the differential.
GI's Pick: Mariners by 4
Valleyview at Westsyde: Valleyview is on a roll. Westsyde is in their path and it is not going to be a pleasant experience for the Whundas.
GI's Pick: Westsyde by 27 on the legs of a strong running game.
Hugh Boyd at John Barsby: A very meaningful game for both teams, each of which is coming off of a bye week. A Boyd win throws the Coastal Division into a mathematical quagmire for playoff seeding and a Barsby win sets the stage for a first place showdown with Seaquam the following week. The bye changes the complexion of this game significantly and both squads have had time to prepare for one another's somewhat unique offensive attacks. Look for defense and special teams to play a huge role in this game. Also, a well timed trick-play could impact the game's outcome as well. The Trojans are a threat to go deep via the air on every play. Barsby can pop a big run at any time. Defensively both teams have very quick linebackers and secondary players. The battle at the LOS will be pivotal on Friday. The kicking game will be big in terms of starting field position. Boyd has probably the best kicker in BC and touchback kick-offs are consistently in his range.
GI's Pick: Barsby by six
Abbottsford Collegiate at Pitt Meadows: This game will be physical! Both teams like to throw themselves around on the field of play. The edge in team speed goes to Pitt; The edge on the ground to Abbey and the edge via the air to Pitt. Momentum is important at this stage in the game as well and Pitt has lots. The Marauders have got to know that they are in a position to narrow the gap on securing the 4th place seed into the playoff tournament. They will play as such.
GI's Pick: Pitt by 16
Handsworth at Mission: Oh to be a spectator at this game!! Two of AA's elite programs bench bossed by two elite coaches in a game with huge playoff meaning. This one is big folks! The outcome of this game will have as much to do with how each team has gone about their business since last season's end as it will be about this week's prep. This is the knife's edge gang. The fate of the game will hinge upon defense. Handsworth traps, counters and Tosses exceptionally. The pressure and physicality of this approach will really test the Roadrunner Defense. Conversely, Handsworth lives by the zone pass defense and Mission's offense is geared to get the ball into the seams and deadspace of such schemes. A sudden switch to man coverage will not favor the Royals in terms of match-ups or indeed familiarity. I don't think that Mission can run the ball effectively vs the Handsworth D, but will be able to do so just enough to buy some time for their standout QB. The ability to pass protect vs the blitz and find the screens will be key for the Roadrunner Offense and Handworth defense. The Royals will be able to run the ball in this game. Can Handsworth keep pace on the scoreboard?
GI's Pick: This Mission team differentiates itself from years past because it can play run defense. Mission by 12
Prince George at Nechako Valley: The winner of this game is likely the North Division seed to the playoff tournament. Both teams have momentum and both teams have been scoring a lot of points en-route to this clash. The most noticeable difference in how they have gotten to this point is defense. The sons of Vanderhoof have been playing better D up to now now and this has them primed in GI's books for a win this weekend.
GI's Pick: Nechako Valley by 8
Correlieu at College Heights: Its pretty simple with this game...College Heights has been playing better football this year. This will not change.
GI's Pick: College Heights by 18
Windsor at Langley: Windsor got taken briefly to the mat last weekend. There was probably a little more to the story than just the quality of their opponent. This weekend, they will be back on track and Coach Schuman will ensure they are at a Duke standard. Langley is a fairly tough group and will bring it physically, but are simply outmatched. You also gotta wonder where their spirits are right now.
GI's Pick: Windsor by 28
Edward Milne at Nanaimo District: Very evenly matched game athletically. Milne has the big play athletes in this game which will certainly make for some interesting moments for the Islander fans gathered to watch this tilt. Nanaimo District has turned a corner with their season and last weekends victory over Vanier has a lot to do with their newfound momentum. I think Milne is getting close to playing the big games, but is not there yet.
GI's Pick: Nanaimo District by 8
Belmont at Mark Isfeld: Belmont is gradually assuming its role as the big dogs of Vancouver Island. It may be Tier 2 this year, but eventually this program has to assume its manifest destiny as the hulking football collossus it can potentially be. Back to earth now, they have one foot up on the doorsteps to that world and are picking up their other foot to even up their stance. A big win vs Timberline adds momentum to this year's climb and the Isfeld Ice stand in the way. Belmont looms large in every category...size, speed, physicality etc. Isfeld has some very good athletes as well, but they are not all pulling in the same direction as are the Bulldogs.
GI's Pick: Belmont by 24 via ground and air.
Saturday, 23 October
Ballenas at Timberline: A superb exhibition choice for both coaching staffs. Timberline will benefit by playing high quality competition and thus raising their game headed into late-season play and playoff tilts. Ballenas has had a rough couple of weeks and is in dire need of some offensive and defensive positives during Monday's team meeting. Good medicine abounds for this one. Also, this is a good Island rivalry that should be kept alive! On the field, Timberline has a well oiled offense that will certainly challenge the Whaler defensive scheme. Problem is for Timberline, they like to throw and the Whaler secondary is its defensive strength. The Whalers have more team speed on offense than Timberline does on Defense. Bad math for the Wolves. Kicking-game...expect anything from Ballenas.
GI's Pick: There will be lots of points on the board at the conclusion of this game. Ballenas will have 21 more.
OKM at Mt. Baker: This game will relieve the Huskies of that stinging sensation they are collectively feeling after last weekend's loss to Valleyview. Mt. Baker is still learning the game.
GI's Pick: OKM by 34
Norkam at Clarence Fulton: The Maroons are perched atop of their historical place amongst Interior AA football competition. This game is important in terms of solidifying their hold on the number 1 seed out of their conference. Fulton will get it done with outside runs and PAP. Norkam's run game will keep the score close for a good chunk of the game before they get left behind.
GI's Pick: Fulton by 14
Sands at South Delta: Two teams headed different directions! The loss to Barsby may have been a gift in disguise to the Sundevils who thereafter have been perfect on the field. Sands is in for a rough time on Saturday as the SunDevils match-up with the Scorpion size, have a deeper bench and a passing game that will carve up a slower Scorpion Secondary. This said, Sands is no group of quitters and they have to have an air of "now or never" in the back of their heads. The game will hinge on how effective Sands can be in terms of ball control and keeping the South Delta offense sitting on its hands. Look for some attempted trick-plays by the Scorpions in this game. Big problem with this however is the fact that the South-Delta coaches are trick-play masters. South Delta will not win this game by running anyone over but they darn-sure can throw the pigskin. A short Sands bench will leave them very winded by mid 2nd quarter and that is when the big plays will begin to occur for South Delta.
GI's Pick: South Delta by 18
Moscrop at Howe Sound: Now here is going to be a very close, physical game. I think the edge here will have to do with travel. Bus legs vs Sounders on their home turf. Both of these teams are smarting after big losses to divisional opponents this past weekend and the winner has sunny playoff days ahead while the vanquished has much important work to do. Moscrop's offense is more balanced than Howe Sound's. The Sounders need to find a way to make it one dimensional in order to win. Defensively, these teams know one another pretty good so the surprises won't be that dramatic. Turnovers will be game changers, period.
GI's Pick: Howe Sound by 1
Robert Bateman at Frank Hurt: OK Bateman, you guys are surely back to early season form and Frank Hurt, looking good fellas, looking good. Both squads flipped the divisional apple cart on its side last weekend and served notice that nothing is a given in Tier 2 Lower Mainland play. You gotta love the parity this year!! So what gives this Saturday? Frank Hurt has more balance but Bateman the edge on team speed. Experience goes to Frank Hurt, but the gap is narrowing. Frank Hurt has home field and Bateman is not a team of road warriors in 2010. I am thinking the winner will be at minimum a semi-finalist in November.
GI's Pick: Hornets by 4
Gulf Islands at G.P. Vanier: The past two weeks have seen these squads play a common opponent, the Nanaimo District Islanders. Gulf Islands got shut out and Vanier played a very close game. Vanier has a deeper bench, bigger-stronger athletes and running backs who are true downhill runners. Gulf Islands only has a shot at winning this game if they can keep themselves from being gutted by Vanier's inside running game. If the quick and scrappy Scorpions can make Vanier run laterally they have a chance.
GI's Pick: Vanier by 18