2. John Barsby
5. Holy Cross
GI's Tier 2 Top Five
2. G.P. Vanier
3. Nanaimo District4. Frank Hurt
Friday, 2 Sept.
South Delta vs Dutchess Park: I've got to take South Delta in this one. Way to much fire power offensively for the Condors to handle and a dominant SunDevil defensive line will make itself felt.
GI's Pick: Sundevils by 46
Kelley Road vs Salmon Arm: Salmon Arm is in a rebuild and is inserting a new offense for 2011. Kelley Road is the strongest it has been in years with a very veteren crew taking the field. Look for a closer score than many may think although I believe that the Golds of Salmon Arm are still ahead developmentally.
GI's Pick: Salmon Arm by 18
Friday, 9 Sept.
Rick Hansen @ Earl Marriot (AAA): A struggling yet plucky Marriot squad hosts the rebuilding Hurricanes. This game means a lot more to the Mariners than it does to the Hurricanes in terms of confidence building and setting the tone for the season. If Marriot has a couple big play athletes that get loose on the Hurricane defense, this becomes a shoot out of a game. I'm thinking there are a couple in the mix. Hansen will spread the ball around very well and be opportunistic offensivley. The Hurrican special teams units will factor in as well.
GI's Pick: Hansen by 6
Moscrop (Tier 2) @ Robert Bateman: Moscrop looks to be a force in Tier 2. Bateman has high expectations for their first year of AA. These teams played tough games against one another last season. Moscrop is going to find out the hard way in this game what the value of having a JV squad last year is all about. Both squads will feature wide open offensive attacks and the defenses will have their work cut out for themselves from the first whistle. Batemen however, has a decisive advantage in team speed, size and overall athleticism. Good opening week game for Moscrop in terms of team development. Moscrop will have their chests puffed out exiting the stadium and headed into week 2 prep.
GI's Pick: Bateman by 34
Ballenas @ Nanaimo District (Tier 2): These two squads have played some epic JV games the past two years. The rosters know one another well and there is a hunger to get smackin that is mutual. Ballenas goes into the game with a size and speed advantage. The Whalers are also very polished offensively with a wide-open run/pass attack that forces defenses to defend every square inch of the field. Nanaimo District is going to be very, very challenged to keep pace with the high flying Whalers. The Islanders are an unknown coming out of Spring Ball. I like their physicality and attitude. If this group is healthy headed into the game, who knows what they can deliver. Preventing Ballenas from making the big-play and turning the game into a slug festival is absolutely critical for the Islanders to have a chance. Ball control and not turning it over is a co-equal in terms of winning this game The body of off-season work by the Whaler offense is going to be a decisive factor. The game is a good choice for the NDSS crew in terms of competing against top flight competition.
GI's Pick: Ballenas by 28
South Kamloops @ Windsor: The Dukes are going to respond to last June's pummeling at the hands of Mission with a very impressive August Camp and opening game performance. There are no illusions of grandeur amongst the green and gold and the hard-work/underdog attitude will permeate the preparation that goes into this contest. SKS is going to rely on a big back and a predictable slow developing offense early on. I think the Dukes are going to find ways of exploiting what is given to them while jumping all over the Titan offense.
GI's Pick: Dukes by 17
Rutland (AAA) @ Valleyview: Good pick for Valleyview to start their season. Rutland will have some horses to be sure, but have weathered a couple consecutive tough seasons heading into this tilt. It will be interesting to see if the Voodoo have the relentless mentality of a winning squad or if they are going to play football tic-tac-toe hoping they are left holding the chalk last. Valleyview has put together some quality seasons of late and will bring that continuity into their opening game. This will be a close contest that comes down to turnovers and the ability to prevent the big play.
GI's Pick: Valleyview by 2
Holy Cross @ John Barsby: Tough to tell what to expect in this game. Both squads bring an extremely physical brand of play on to the field and the rosters match up pretty darn equally in terms of size and speed. The coaching staffs are not very familiar with one another and the respective rosters have never played each other. What we have here is a game where turnovers and eliminating the big play could never be more important. The ability of both defensive coordinators to rapidly adapt to what is being thrown their way will be crucial as the game develops. I also look for special teams units to be difference makers. This one could go down to the wire.
GI's Pick: Barsby by 1
Clarence Fulton @ Mt. Boucherie (AAA): I like this match-up for a lot of reasons. Firstly, both of these programs are quality run through and through with some great historical rivalry. Mt. Boucherie is a tough opponent for the Maroons and this will surely get folks oriented in terms of what needs work headed into week 2 and beyond. The Bears have the horses in this tilt and the score will reflect this as the game plays out. Though this is going to be a loss for Fulton on the scoreboard, it is going to be a great step along the road to developing a squad that eventually competes for the divisional title come October/November.
GI's Pick: Mt. Boucherie by 18
Lord Tweedsmuir (AAA) @ Hugh Boyd: The Panthers and Trojans have a great history of hard fought, competitive games versus one another dating back to LT's arrival at AA ball in 2004. At present, Boyd is ascendent and there is talk out there in football circles that LT could be an AAA contender in 2011. Looking at the respective rosters, there is a lot of even match-ups in key positions. The coaching and player experience also stack-up very evenly. This game will be a gem. There will be a lot of physical play and the outcome will be decided by a couple of explosive plays. I think LT has a couple more in their kit than Boyd.
GI's Pick: LT by 14
South Delta @ New Westminster: This has become a good pre-season rivalry game for both squads in recent years. This year's tilt will be very telling as we look at the direction that both teams are heading. The Hyaks are looking to rejoin the top five in AAA and S. Delta has similar intentions at AA. My take is that the SunDevils are going to be hard pressed to slow down the New West offensive attack, particularly on the ground. The Hyaks will likely have an easier time defending South Delta's precision passing game. Look for some SunDevil trick plays to be unleased in an attempt to capture momentum during the first or second quarter. It won't be enough.
GI's Pick: New Westminster by 28
Eric Hamber @ Mark Isfeld: Hamber's first varsity game in history will be played at the always tough venue of Bill Moore Park in Courtenay vs the veteren Mark Isfeld Ice. Isfeld held off of spring ball this year to get some rugby on the go. Scheme wise this will hurt them a bit, but there will be a toughness factor and some conditioning that plays into their favor as a result. A long trip and inexperience will be too much for the young Hamber squad to overcome. The trip however will certainly serve as a team builder and go a long ways towards building some familiarity with the provincial football mileau.
GI's Pick: Isfeld by 20
Frank Hurt @ G.P. Vanier: The defending champs are in tough with this trip. Vanier is big, strong, fast and rife with experience. This year could very well belong to the Towhees and what better way to start than with a home game vs a provincially ranked program. Look for Hurt to unveil a wide open spread attack offensively and Vanier to come out smashmouth with the power game they are built for. Look for Vanier to get in rhythm early.
GI's Pick: Vanier by 16
Kelly Road vs Nechako Valley: Two of the more veteran and savy squads meet in week 1. Alot of skill on both teams with Nechako Valley deep on defence and Kelly Road chalk full of offensive weaponry. It should be an interesting match up to see who is ready in week 1. Kelly Road will have a road exhibition game against Salmon Arm under their belt, but Nechako Valley will likely come out on top with a team that has played together for years and has compiled a couple community 9-man titles.
GI's Pick: Nechako Valley by 14
Prince George vs Correlieu: The two biggest schoosl in El Norte meet for their respective week one openers. The similarity ends here and when it comes to football , it will be no contest. Prince George is deep with returning talent from their conference title last season and should dominate the young re-building squad from Quesnel.
GI's Pick: Prince George by 35
Duchess Park vs College Heights: At face value,Duchess Park would seem to be the favorite on paper with some great veteren offensive talent rolling into the game. This game however, will in all probability be a close one because of College Heights commitment to defence and a grinding, clock munching style of offence. At game's end, the Condors of Dutchess Park should come out on top, but in a closer game then they find comfortable playing.
GI's Pick: Dutchess Park by 6
Saturday 10 Sept.
West Vancouver (AAA) at Handsworth: There was a time not so long ago when West Vancouver would clean house in this game. That is clearly not the case now and I look for the most competitive Handsworth Squad since 2007 to dominate every phase of this game.
GI's Pick: Handsworth by 24
Seaquam @ Mission: Want a preview of a potential 2011 playoff match-up? Here it is. Easily one of the biggest games in September, the SeaHawks and Roadrunners are going to get after it on Saturday afternoon! Mission is going to be extremely tough for the September version of the Seaquam squad to handle. I think that the complete SeaHawk attack won't be ready until October whereas the Roadrunners, historically one of the fastest starting teams in AA will be rolling on all cylinders. Seaquam's power running game will face trouble as Mission has bigger and faster bodies to go toe to toe with it. The Mission offensive attack, its explosiveness and its diversity will carry the day for the big green. Late scores on big plays will factor in with this re-match of last November's classic quarter-final game.
GI's Pick: Mission by 20