VANCOUVER — It took a while, but when the Eric Hamber Griffins finally got around to winning a provincial football title, they did it with ridiculous historical flair.
The Griffins, a 2010 start-up program which began senior varsity play in 2012, survived some hairy moments over the second half Saturday at B.C. Place Stadium to defeat Victoria’s Spectrum Thunder 28-21, becoming the first Vancouver public high school in precisely a quarter century to win a B.C. senior varsity football title.
The last time it happened, back in 1992, the John Oliver Jokers defeated North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Eagles for the Subway Bowl AA title.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said program founder and head coach Bobby Gibson. “We have a great group of kids this year. We always have good kids. But as a leadership group, they have really taken it on.”
Griffins quarterback Arthur Lee rushed for three touchdowns in the victory despite being felled in the week of practice by a bout of strep throat.
As a member of Griffins teams which advanced to the finals in both 2014 and ’16 but failed to win, Lee couldn’t find the words to describe his joy.
“Undescribable, man,” said the senior who missed three practices this past week. “We’ve been working for a while for this and to finally get it after losing twice means a lot. Best day of my life. There is no way to describe this feeling right now.”
Gibson echoed those statements and gave kudos to his team’s leader.
“I said earlier this year that our season will go as he goes,” said Gibson of Lee. “Last week against Howe Sound we took the ball out of his hands and it was a testament to his character that he didn’t care. He just wanted us to win.
“He didn’t need to be the focal point and that is why our guys can all rally around him. He is selfless and he is such a great athlete. He makes exciting things happen.”
Spectrum’s Brandon Robbins scored on a one-yard run with 4:11 remaining to make it 28-21, and the Thunder recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Riley Wilson and Harrison Kuromi also scored touchdowns for Spectrum. Hamber’s other major came from Derich Luong on a two-yard run.
Gibson, eight years into the journey, feels like a full-fledged football culture has emerged at his school.
“We had 16 Grade 9 kids signed up for a two-and-a-half month football camp when they knew they wouldn’t get much playing time after their Grade 8 spring season,” said Gibson. “So I think (football) it’s here to stay.”
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