With only Mt. Douglas punter Giovanni Linuzzi to beat, G.W. Graham's Tyson Orregaard is captured on his way to game-winning 70-yard punt return TD on Monday in Langley. (Photo by Joanne Hewitt 2021 exclusive property of photographer. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

Tyson Orregaard’s special teams thunder carries the day! His 70-yard punt return TD lifts GWG’s Grizzlies past Mt. Doug & into BC Place Subway Bowl AAA semifinals!

LANGLEY — On a team as deep at receiver as Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies have been this season, Grade 11 Tyson Orregaard has tried his best to stay patient, doing anything he could to help his team.

And on Monday, as the Subway Bowl B.C. AAA Coastal championships reached the quarterfinal stage for the Grizzlies, Orregaard showed that during that time, he was always doing the most important thing of all: He stayed ready so when he got his chance to shine, he made the most of his opportunity.

Orregaard returned a punt 70 yards, snapping a 20-20 third-quarter tie, in the process carrying a G.W. Graham team on its maiden voyage at the Triple-A level this season, past Victoria’s Mt. Douglas Rams 27-20, thus securing its spot in a Saturday Subway Bowl quarterfinals at B.C. Place Stadium.

“All year I have been apologizing to Tyson for not getting him the ball as much because he is so talented,” said Grizzlies’ head coach Luke Acheson, whose team now faces Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs.

“In the all-star selection meetings, I was trying to get him one because he is so talented,” continued Acheson, “but he plays behind (seniors) Josh Caverly and Tyson Kelly. He’s been so patient, and we know receivers, they want the ball. And with all of that, I have never once heard a word from him about it.”

Starting with a Rams’ major to open the scoring, GWG would tie the score at 6-6 and then 13-13 before the half on a pair of rushing majors by Sam Mannes.

As usual, Mannes was spectacular for the winners, carrying 25 times for 202 yards.

The Rams took a 20-13 lead, but then Grizz quarterback Lucas Feaver went five yards to Kelly to tie it, setting the stage for the Grizzlies’ play of the season.

Giovanni Linuzzi got off a terrific punt for the Rams, which Orregaard secured and then began to make his way up the field. With most of the return coming in the middle of the field, he was able to juke past the last would-be-tackler in Linuzzi, who got a piece of the return man, but not quite enough to slow him from scoring the special teams major.

“And that is exactly what we talked about post-game,” said Acheson, “complimentary football. Offence and defence came to work, and then specials broke it open for us. We talk about family all day, and that takes everyone, and no one was left out of this win today. Everyone contributed.”

The defense made huge plays when needed as well including a Kelly highlight reel interception and sacks by Raiden Mastin and Vinny Branauer (eight tackles), who also added a fumble recovery. Caverly at his DB position added seven tackles. Defensive back Theo Smith led the unit with 12 tackles and two passes defended, both at critical times.

“I try to remind these guys that I love them as much as possible – and today they made me incredibly proud – they simply played their hearts out against a very good Mt. Douglas team,” noted defensive coordinator Ian Parks. “Our defense came together today against this powerful and deceptive running attack the Rams use – I am so proud of how the boys finished”.

On offense, Feaver was 10-for-11 for 64 yards and a touchdown. The Grizzlies leading receiver was Caverly with three receptions for 58 yards.

For Mt. Douglas, Miltiadis Koulelis rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, while Hunter Swift rumbled for 123 yards and a score. 

On defense, Sebastian Sibbald led the Rams in tackles with eight, followed by Morgan Steves, Linuzzi and Malik Gagne-Smith with six tackles, and Ben Meunier with five tackles. Linuzzi also had an interception.

“This was a hard fought battle and G.W. Graham were able to make a few more key plays,” said Rams’ head coach Mark Townsend. “Our kids played hard to final whistle and I am exceedingly proud of their effort and fortitude.”

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