GW Graham is sending a football team to B.C. Place Stadium for the ninth straight year.
GWG’s senior squad crushed the Holy Cross Crusaders by a 35-6 count on a rain-soaked Saturday night at Exhibition Stadium, earning their way into a Subway Bowl semi-final that will be played Saturday (2:30 p.m.) versus the Langley Saints.
A win against their arch-rivals would bring them back to B.C. Place Stadium the following weekend for the AA provincial final.
“I tried to not have the Dome as a thought this season, and just take things a game at a time and a play at a time,” said GWG lineman Mason Murphy. “I told my friends we had to show it on the field, and put in the work at practice and on game day.
“After today’s game we definitely deserve it.”
The Grizzlies made it look easy demolishing Holy Cross in the AA quarter-final.
The offence bludgeoned the Crusaders with a dominant ground game, led by hard-charging running back Jaiden Claassen. No. 3 in blue ran over and around Holy Cross defenders at will, rolling up 203 yards on 17 carries. On GWG’s opening series he bulled his way up the middle for runs of 10 and 25 yards and finished with another 10 yarder into the endzone for the game’s first score.
On GWG’s second series he broke away for 21 yards and finished the drive with a one-yard plunge.
In a moment that seems unfair for any defence, Murphy, who is big enough to impersonate a CFL offensive lineman, checked in at running back for the two point convert and rammed his way in for a 14-0 GWG lead.
Defensive back Colton Holt set up the third Grizzly score, intercepting a long bomb at midfield and returning it to the Holy Cross 13.
Claassen went straight up the gut on the next play and Murphy added another two-point convert for a 22-0 GWG advantage.
“If I was playing defence and I saw Jaiden running at me, I’d go for his ankles,” Murphy chuckled. “But he has so much speed and agility, he’d go around me no matter what. He’s a heckuva player and I have nothing but love and respect for him.”
The air attack got involved just before half time.
Jett Thomas ran a go route down the right sideline and quarterback Grayson Frick threw a perfect pass, dropping the ball into the receiver’s mitts for a 35 yard TD.
Claassen’s fourth rushing TD gave GWG a 35-0 lead early in the third quarter, and from there it was run-out-the-clock time.
It was the final home game for 13 GW Graham seniors who will be graduating in 2020, including Claassen, Murphy, Thomas and Holt.
Those four, along with Colby Bessette, Jacob Gardner, Liam Dallas, Jackson Saunders, Austin Forgues, Greg Roberts, Cody Goertzen, John Grenier and Ethan Paisley were recognized before the game and enjoyed a few emotional moments after the final whistle.
“Since day one when I was six or seven years old and just a tiny kid, I’ve been playing with my buddies, and to have that moment with them on the field meant the world to me,” Murphy said. “It was a really emotional and inspiring game for all of us today and I would definitely say we fed off of that.”
The next game promises to be much tougher.
The Langley Saints bombed Vernon’s Clarence Fulton Maroons in the other AA quarter-final.
GW Graham beat Langley by a miniscule margin (20-19) in their lone regular season meeting on Oct. 18.
“It was saved when we blocked a field goal at the end,” Murphy said. “We expect Langley to come out and show their hearts and we will as well.
“Both teams will compete to their full extent and the winner will come out on top.”
AA provincial all-stars have been announced, with five Grizzlies earning selections.
They are Claassen, Murphy, Frick, Holt and offensive lineman Vince Ibardaloza.