VANCOUVER — The championship photo had been taken under the goal posts at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday, and that’s when St. Thomas More’s Subway Bowl B.C. junior AAA Coastal championship final was official.
Wait, not until virtually every player on the squad came over to offer a hug to the Knights’ longtime head coach Dave Ruzycki.
“This is my last year, it’s been 20 years coaching at St. Thomas More,” said Ruzycki, with tears on his cheeks, following his team’s 7-3 come-from-behind win over the Vancouver College Fighting Irish. “For me to be able to end my career with these players is such a high note.”
Saturday’s game in no way resembled the Irish’s 36-14 home field victory back in late October.
The game in fact was following the kind of track that suggested regulation would end in a 0-0 tie.
Vancouver College’s Dante Grieg, however, kicked a short field to open the scoring with just 4:34 left in the third quarter.
Yet that, in and of itself, was something of a victory for the Knights, because at the time Vancouver College were threatening with what was their best drive of the game.
But the Irish were forced to settle for three after a big sack by St. Thomas More’s Sebastian Gorrie on third down.
“We knew we had an athlete, and we just had to put him in a position to utilize his skill,” said Ruzycki of Gorrie, who lined up as a nose tackle and was lated picked the game’s Defensive MVP. “When we put him in middle we knew he’s have some success getting pressure on the quarterback.”
Not too soon after, the Knights broke their offensive dry spell.
Running back Mathew Custodio, the Offensive MVP, took off on a 38-yard touchdown run just under four minutes into the fourth quarter. Sal Piolco’s PAT was good and the Knights led 7-3.
“We saw that their defensive end was taking a slant inside and we felt if we could get to Mathew outside, that he could beat the corner. We had a couple of great blocks by our receivers to get him into the end zone.”
The Irish threatened with a late interception, yet STM’s Picolo went up and got an interception not too soon afterwards.
Then, the Knights’ defence held the Irish on fourth-and-10 from its own 24-yard line with 8:14 left, and from there, they held on for the win.
“I just can’t believe how well our boys played, especially on defence,” said Ruzycki, coaching in his eighth Subway Bowl final with the Knights, with prior B.C. AAA JV wins in both 2011 and 2013. “Vancouver College has such great team but our boys found it within themselves to do what they do best. It was a team effort.”
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