Wednesday, November 26, 2014

AA BC Semi-Final Weekend

And Then There Were Four!

John Barsby Bulldogs vs Vernon Panthers: The Vernon steamroller has flattened all before it in 2014. Standing squarely in front of the Panthers are the John Barsby Bulldogs.  Barsby's road to the semi's has been a lot rougher go.   Both teams however, have earned their way into this game and are no strangers to the post-season.  Vernon can run and throw the ball with equal dexterity, they do this with a monster offensive line and a bevy of outstanding backs/receivers.  Barsby gets the ball up-field a number of ways, but with no notable standouts.  The Barsby inside run is nasty.   Defensively, the Dawgs swarm as does Vernon. Special teams are a draw.  So what do the tea leaves say about this one? Well, on paper and judging by the season, Vernon should overpower Barsby plain and simple.  Vegas would heartily agree.  I however, put no faith in "the stats". Come playoff football, high school kids create their own story and things rarely go according to anyone's script.  This one will be close. GI's Pick: Too close to call.

Ballenas Whalers vs Mission Roadrunners: A match-up between two of the best pure run teams in the Province.  What is neat is how differently each squad moves the ball via the ground.  The speed advantage goes to Mission.  The offensive line to Ballenas.   This will be a grinding affair.  The word "attrition" comes to mind.  Neither roster is overly deep in terms of numbers so the team that waivers first could find themselves in a hole.  Now the video to date on each team shouts run-run-run at the viewer.  It may just be however, that a couple big pass plays could also blow this one wide-open. On specials, the Whaler short-kick is a game changer while the Mission mortar kick is a nasty cuss as well.  I am going to give specials to the Whalers, but not by a lot. GI's Pick: Whalers by 4

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 AA Varsity Quarter-Finals

BC Quarter-Finals

There are now eight AA Varsity teams left who are still practicing.  This time next week, there will be four.  The opening round this year had a couple eyebrow raising scores but nothing spectacularly out of place.  The great unknown headed into the quarters is who got out of the first round healthy and who is nursing some injuries.

Opening Round Scores

Vernon 35   Argyle 0

Carson Graham 55 Duchess Park 6

Ballenas 51 Westsyde 6

John Barsby 41 Prince George 0

Hugh Boyd 26 G.W. Graham 20

Seaquam 39 Pitt Meadows 28

Abbottsford 34 Frank Hurt 0

Mission 35  Robert Bateman 0

GI's Picks

Abbottsford @ Vernon: This match-up intrigues the hec out of me.  The athletes and size on both rosters are insane!  Abbey throws the ball very, very well and has built itself around wide-open offense. Vernon is more balanced, but can do it all.  The weather is going to have a say as well.  Defensively, both teams have shut-down groups and give up points very grudgingly. Abbey has played a tougher schedule than Vernon, but when the interior squad faced a a very good Argyle squad, they did not miss a dominant beat.  Home field has a say as well.  Based on weather, home field and Vernon's record to date, I have to give this one to em.    GI's Pick: Vernon by 7

Seaquam @ John Barsby: Barsby is playing some very, very good defense of late and with one Carson Graham sized 28 pt. hic-up, the Dawgs have been making it tough on opposing offenses. Seaquam can score however and their vertical game/screens are impressive.  Up front, the size goes to the SeaHawks.  Overall team quickness goes to Barsby.  Home field, Barsby.   GI's Pick: Barsby by 9

Carson Graham @ Mission: Wow, another great match-up.  Carson picked-up its game big-time on the road vs Duchess Park last week and they now get a Mission squad who received their wake-up call in week 10 from Abbey.  Mission matches up better up front and has the best athlete on the field. Carson is getting healthy and has more roster depth.  If Carson can stay balanced on offensse, they will cause the Roadrunners some fits.  Last team holding the ball wins. That means turnovers will play havoc on someone.  GI's Pick: Carson by 2

Ballenas @ Hugh Boyd: Ballenas finally meets a team that can hang with em up front, at least for awhile.  Hugh Boyd has had a pretty fine season to date.  This game may very well come down to who can pass more effectively and defend the same.  GI's Pick: Ballenas by 10

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014 AA Playoffs Round 1

AA Varsity Round One Playoffs

Week Ten In Review

The season ended with a huge upset of the Mission Roadrunners by the Abbottsford Panthers.  I do not think the Mission program has lost a divisional game since 2009, perhaps earlier.  This was big people.  The East has reached parity officially.  In much the same way, Nanaimo District gave Carson Graham the scare of its 2014 life by opening up with a 48-13 lead during the 3rd quarter.  What followed next was one of the great reversals I have witnessed.   Kind of mind numbing.  Up north, the Interior conference asserted itself as a notch above the Northern division in a series of seeding games. Now, we are on to playoffs.

Gridiron's AA Varsity Top 5

1. Vernon Panthers
2. Abbottsford Panthers
3. Mission Roadrunners
4. John Barsby Bulldogs
5. Ballenas Whalers

GI's Picks

G.W. Graham @ Hugh Boyd:  This game is going to be about defense plain and simple.  Both teams can score quickly, especially with good field position. If the Trojans can keep the Grizzlies to under three scores, they win.  GI's Pick: Boyd by 8

Westsyde @ Ballenas: This year's Westsyde squad has quietly put together the best varsity season the program has enjoyed in twenty years.  Well done!  Ballenas however, is on a roll and has home field. The Whaler running game has had only one setback all year and will likely not suffer another this Saturday.  GI's Pick: Whalers by 18

Robert Bateman @ Mission:  These teams know each other as good as any two groups in the Province.  Mission has been culling the Wolfpack for years and I see no reason for this to discontinue, especially coming off of a divisional loss.  The on field match-ups go in Mission's favour across the board.  GI's Pick: Roadrunners by 24

Carson Graham @ Duchess Park:  The Eagles continue their Jekyl and Hyde season on the road this week.  Duchess has made great strides over the years and will have to bring their A-Game in order to compete.  I like the Carson passing game in this contest with just enough run to give the Condors fits. GI's Pick: Carson by 19

Prince George @ John Barsby:  The Polars have been having a great season.  They now travel about as far as one can travel in-province for a tilt vs the John Barsby Bulldogs in the Dawg's back yard. Bit of a connection here as one of the JB coaches is a PGSS alumni and one of the PGSS coaches is a Bulldog Alumni/former Quarterback.  Football is truly a small family.  Once the meet and greet is over, their is a playoff game to get taken care of.  The Barsby defense is going to be a tough nut to crack and the offense has been held to less than 30 pts. only once this year.  GI's Pick: Barsby by 18

Pitt Meadows @ Seaquam:  The Marauders are the lower seed but they come from a way tougher conference and their style of play will reflect this.  Look for Pitt to get it done with smashmouth running and blocking.  Defensively the SeaHawks will hit a brick wall.  GI's Pick: Pitt by 21

Argyle @ Vernon:  Well folks, this should easily be the best game of the first round.  Argyle plays some great offense on artificial turf and is physically on par with the number 1 ranked Panthers.  This said, the Pipers are on the road and Vernon feels like they have a special year on their hands.  The Panthers need to run the ball effectively to win this game.  That IS the recipe.  Argyle needs to play within themselve and opportunistic when the situations come their way.  GI's Pick: Vernon by 12

Frank Hurt @ Abbottsford:  The Panthers are coming off of the biggest win in program history and enter this game with serious swagger.  Arguably, they have a top two roster in terms of athleticism. Frank Hurt is going to get flattened.  GI's Pick: Abbey by 29 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

AA Varsity Week Ten

Week Ten

Week Nine In Review

#1 Vernon and Clarence Fulton tangled for 1st Place in the Interior on Saturday

Week Nine was decisive in the West with Barsby taking care of business on the road vs Carson and then getting help from arch-rival Ballenas to secure first place in the division.  Ballenas played big vs Argyle at home on Saturday and secured the number two seed out of the West.  Carson Graham has to win next Friday on the road in Nanaimo to secure the number 3 seed while Argyle must be content to have its fate decided by the Eagles.  Windsor may get in to the tourney as well with a big win over Sentinel, but ultimately, the league executive will have to choose between the Dukes and the #5 Eastern team, the Robert Bateman Timberwolves for the final playoff seed.  In the Interior, it was smooth sailing for Vernon as they finish number one.  Hugh Boyd, the emerging provincial dark horse clobbered another divisional foe to finish undefeated out of the South. 

Taking a long look at the 2014 season, it is immediately striking as to just how much parity is out there.  It would appear that there are at least seven to eight teams that have an equal shot at the Subway Bowl!  Parity is the word at the AA varsity level this year with no clear pair of juggernauts apparent.  Not a bad thing!!  So we step into the great adventure to come and this reminds me of a Joe Campbell thought:

"Follow your bliss.
The heroic life is living the individual adventure.
There is no security
in following the call to adventure.

Nothing is exciting
if you know
what the outcome is going to be."
Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living



John Barsby 30 Carson Graham 28

Frank Hurt 7 Moscrop 0


Windsor 41 Nanaimo District 34 (OT)

Hugh Boyd 34 Holy Cross 3

G.W. Graham 38 Robert Bateman 22

South Kamloops 32 Valleyview 0


Ballenas 48 Argyle 12

Vernon 29 Clarence Fulton 0

Abbottsford 51 Rick Hansen 7

Mission 15 Samuel Roberts 0

GI's AA Top 5

1. Vernon Panthers
2. Mission Roadrunners
3. John Barsby Bulldogs
4. Ballenas Whalers
5. Carson Graham Eagles/Abbottsford Panthers

Honourable Mention

Abbottsford Panthers, Duchess Park Condors, Pitt Meadows Marauders, Hugh Boyd Trojans

GI's Week 10 Picks

Carson Graham @ Nanaimo District: The Eagles finish up the regular season on the road, on grass, in Nanaimo against a quality Islander squad who are playing together one last time as Sr.'s on their home dirt.  If the Islanders can take care of their pass coverage early on, this game could entertain! GI's Pick: Carson by 16

Mission @ Abbottsford: Huge and meaningful game out in the Valley.  At stake, first place in the East! If Mission wins, they win the conference outright and Abbey falls to third place.  If Abbey wins, they are in a three way tie with Mission and Pitt.  Pitt having beaten Abbey early in the season.  Things will then go to a score differential between the three teams in head-to head.  My calculus has Abbey needing to win by 21.  (I may be off on this however.) Mission will have had an extra-week of prep headed into this one and they will need it.  These teams have been rivals playing tough and big games against one another since they were wee little JV's with the Roadrunners maintaining the upper hand across the years.  If they are not careful, this could be their divisional Waterloo.  The best single player on the field wears a Mission uniform. Roster depth goes to the Panthers.  Toughness and "want to", well that is a toss-up. Would love to be on hand in person to watch this one.  I admire those who get to see it!  GI's Pick: Mission by 1 in an epic squeaker.

Robert Bateman @ Rick Hansen: Last game of the season for these two squads.  Lots of pride on the line and the swan song game for two accomplished groups of Grade 12 players.  Bateman has been playing a more consistent game of ball throughout the season and I see no reason for this to change. GI's Pick: Timberwolves by 19

Windsor @ Sentinel: Windsor is coming off of a big, big win on Friday and will finish the regular season adding to their momentum  as they tangle with their old rival the Sentinel Spartans.  Look for plenty of offense in this one for the Dukes.  GI's Pick: Windsor by 18 plus.

Vernon vs Duchess Park:  The number 1 and 2 seed North of Hope gets determined by this game. Both teams are rich in playoff experience and have a fine group of athletes.  Both are undefeated in league play as well.  The offenses are balanced and there is much size up front.  Weather is going to be a big factor.  I always double down on teams with a good running game in November outdoor tilts. Vernon may have an edge here, but not as big as some folks think.  Defensively, the Panthers have been posting bigger numbers.  This is where the contest will be won.  GI's Pick: Vernon by 10

Prince George vs Westsyde:  Lots on the line here as this game determines Interior/North 3/4 seed into the playoffs.  The Polars are big, strong and love sledgehammer football.  Not a bad recipe for November and outdoors!  Westsyde will roll in with a more dynamic attack on the offensive side.  This game will be about defense and creating turnovers.  If the weather turns nasty, the kicking game looms large. GI's Pick: Polars by 3

Projected AA Varsity Playoff Draw

       Round #1
      Nov. 14 & 15
Host Highest Seed

Top Half

SOUTH #1 HughBoyd
East #4
GW Graham
West #2
Int/Nor #3
East #1
E/W #5
West #3
Carson Graham
Int/Nor #2
Duchess Park/Vernon

Bottom Half
Int/Nor #4
East #3
Int/Nor #1
West #4
South #3
Frank Hurt
East #2
Pitt Meadows

GI's AA JV Top Five

1. Abbottsford Panthers
2. Holy Cross Crusaders
3. G.W. Graham Grizzlies
4. Ballenas Whalers
5. John Barsby Bulldogs/Duchess Park Condors