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PHOTOS: Defensive battle slides away from Centennial Centaurs to end comeback football season

Efforts to reach the final come up short against G.W. Graham one week after upsetting Vancouver College in the quarters.

Dino Geremia is proud his football club got inside 'the dome' when no one else thought they would.

The Centennial Centaurs head coach says a new standard has been set for the secondary in proving even the underdog can power through.

In the end, the almost storybook season came to a close tonight (Nov. 27) in a 19-0 loss to G.W. Graham (Chilliwack) at BC Place.

It was the first of two semi-finals of the 2021 BC AAA coastal championship. The Grizzlies move on to the Subway Bowl next Saturday (Dec. 4).

Centennial prevailed 27-24 in the quarter-final match, upsetting the 7-0 Vancouver College a week earlier.

"You can point at a number of things, but I think, at the end of the day, it's a great opportunity [and] great experiences for the players," said Geremia in an interview with the Tri-City News post-game. 

"We've created some memories for everybody and we just came up a little short when they needed to."

A slow first half favoured G.W. Graham, but the resiliency of the Centaur defense kept the Coquitlam school in the contest.

Defensive lineman William Zheng recovered a key fumble with six minutes to go in the second quarter and prevented what could been another long-scoring drive for the Grizzlies.

"Defense played well," said Geremia, noting the D-line seniors stepped up in the right moments.

"So it's one of those games when it's just the battle of the team and which defense is going to be better and it was a defensive battle all day long."

The 9-0 deficit at halftime eventually got away from Centennial, ultimately keeping them from getting on the board. 

G.W. Graham's offense took over in the third quarter and most of the fourth, which led to a second touchdown drive and the Cenaturs' defense stymied.

Within the final three minutes of the semi-final, Centaurs' quarterback Malcolm Cameron converted a 45-yard pass to receiver Keyshawn Beswick. However, an interception a few plays later settled the contest to a 19-0 final for the Grizzlies.

Provincial AAA offensive MVP running back Ziad Sabry officially ends his high school football career in hopes of taking an "explosive" game to a higher level.

The Grade 12 student, also known as "Zeast-Mode," credits his team's comradery that helped him become a better player — some of who he's played with for almost 10 years.

"I thank my line, man. I can't get no yards without them," he told the Tri-City News. "Our defense played great today. Everyone played, you know, but we just came just short."

"I'm just proud of how far they've come," said Geremia when asked about the unity of the red, white and blue throughout the season.

"Nobody expected us to win let alone make the playoffs and, obviously, get into the dome. As much as what we did on the field, it's just the individuals that grew so much that I'm most proud of."

Geremia says he's got plenty of players coming back and believes the new experience for most of his core will light a fire to come back better in 2022.

 "We're going to work for it [...] We've been here, we were in the playoffs and you know, this group of seniors has set a standard for us and that really helps when we're trying to build something that's consistently a good program," he explained.

"So, breaking through and having the wins we had this year, the playoff games and the opportunity to play in the dome, until you do you those things, they're very hard to see. We've done that now and that's a positive thing that we can move forward with."

Centennial finished 5-4 in the 2021 campaign, including regular season and playoffs.