VANCOUVER — Matt Esaw’s mind couldn’t help but drift back in time to the start of Vancouver College Grade 8 football training camp in late August.
“Man alive, I cannot begin to imagine this, after what these guys looked like in August,” the Fighting Irish head coach said Saturday morning after high school football returned to B.C. Place after a two-year absence.
“Back then, these guys didn’t know how to take a snap or how to get in a huddle… and now, today, they were incredible.”
From a football purist’s standpoint, Grade 8 games may not hit the heights on any kind of artistic scale, yet when you take the two key plays in V.C.’s 15-8 win over the Notre Dame Jugglers — a blocked punt and a pass deflection which led to an interception — it was big plays on special teams and defence which wound up bringing the Quadra Cup B.C. Subway Bowl title back to the Cartier Street campus.
Vancouver College opened the scoring early in the first quarter by getting the special teams play of its season.
The Irish’s Noah James blocked a Notre Dame punt, and Ethan Rizzari recovered it, then took it about 25 yards into the end zone. Quarterback Brandon Bailey’s two-point keeper made it 8-0.
Bailey later connected on a 19-yard scoring strike with Jerome Angelopoulos for a 15-0 lead.
Notre Dame took a chunk out of their deficit, turning a third-and-three from the Irish 32-yard line into a Sayjvir Gill touchdown run.
Notre Dame was driving late, but James, once more man behind the big play, deflected a pass which was intercepted by Jack Burns to seal the victory with 3:37 remaining.
“Those big plays, those key turnovers, are what wins games and I can’t stress how much this was a team effort today,” added Esaw.
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