ABBOTSFORD — On the final day of the season, the proverbial gas tank is more often than not half-empty.
The Carson Graham Eagles, however, showed how effective half-full could be, leaning on their reserves for some key second-half performances en route to the B.C. senior boys Triple A Tier 1 championship Saturday at Rotary Stadium.
“When you’re playing in a tight game like this,” began Carson Graham head coach Glen McKinnon of his team’s eventual 31-13 win over the hometown Yale Lions, “and you run into some adversity, you need to have depth, and today, we had a couple of big-impact subs come in and really help us.”
A couple of injuries early in the game forced the hand of the Eagles’ coaching staff, but those subs came in and played huge roles in the final outcome.
After Yale’s Kalum Burn booted a penalty kick through the uprights early in the second half, the Lions had pulled to within 14-13 on their home field.
The Eagles, however, stormed back with three unanswered tries to finish the game, two of which came from the all-important ranks of their reserves.
Flanker Tyler Wong, a sub who had scored a try in the opening half, scored his second of the game to make it 19-13
No. 8 Quinton James followed with a try to push the lead out to 24-13, and then Dakota Duncan, who had subbed into the game in the 20th minute at prop following a concussion suffered by starter Simon Cole , scored the game’s final try, with Killik Saxer rounding out the scoring with his third conversion of the game.
Nicholas Gray scored the Eagles’ other try while Yale’s points came on a game-opening try from Teo Degianni, with Burn adding a convert and two penalties.
McKinnon said that the win was a nice reward for his players as the Eagles’ program continues to build back to a level of supremacy it enjoyed a few seasons back.
However he stressed that the program’s goal is still to be playing amongst top four sides at provincials.
“We are shooting for Quad A,” said McKinnon of the newly-created tier, now two seasons old, which was created for the top four teams at the provincials.
“We have a rich history at Carson of being a top-four team and right now. We are trying to get the program back to the top level as much as we can. But this championship is great for our kids, and just super fun to be a part of.”
Shawnigan Lake Stags, St. George’s Saints, Oak Bay Barbarians and Earl Marriott Mariners were classed as the top four teams and thus were bracketed into a semifinal draw which the Stags eventually emerged victorious.
Carson’s program is clearly in revival mode.
Six Grade 11s started Saturday’s AAA Tier 1 title match against Yale, and the majority of those 11’s played in the 2016 B.C. junior final, a loss to Shawnigan Lake. To boot, this season’s junior team finished in the top four.
As well, Saturday’s game was televised, allowing the provincial rugby community to see what an outstanding product the game is at its top levels.
“I PVR’d it and I’ve already watched it twice,” McKinnon said Sunday afternoon. (BCSSRU commissioner) Walt (Van Halst) did a great job organizing the broadcast and it was a great experience for all of our kids to be a part of.”
(Varsity Letters thanks Peter Cannon and Kevin Ballard for all of their assistance with this report on championship Saturday)
Shawnigan Lake 47 St. George’s 15
Oak Bay 50 Earl Marriott 17
AAA Tier 1:
Carson Graham 31 Yale 13
R.E, Mountain 20 W.J. Mouat 14
Handsworth 29 Elgin Park 19
South Delta 24 Belmont 4
AAA Tier 2
Terry Fox 30 Penticton 20
Argyle 35 Claremont 31
Kitsilano 32 West Vancouver 0
Lord Tweedsmuir 22 Cowichan 14
AA Tier 1
SMUS 24 Brentwood College 14
Collingwood 29 RA McMath 7
Rockridge 33 Robert Bateman 22
G.W. Graham 18 Nanaimo District 12
AA Tier 2
Glenlyon Norfolk 17 LV Rogers 13
Clarence Fulton 43 Seycove 12
Sutherland 28 DW Poppy 20
Sir Charles Tupper 31 Langley 19
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