The Terry Fox Ravens are eyeing a fourth B.C. AAA provincial football championship — and an important ninth win of the season.
After easily prevailing 27-12 over Notre Dame (Vancouver) in the coastal semi-final last Saturday (Nov. 27), the Port Coquitlam secondary school is flying high heading into the 2021 title game, known as the Subway Bowl.
If successful tomorrow night (Dec. 4) against the G.W. Graham Grizzlies (Chilliwack), it'll be Terry Fox's fourth blue banner in 15 years, their first since 2016 and their fifth senior championship overall. They won the AA crown in 1989.
In an interview with the Tri-City News, Terry Fox head coach Tom Kudaba said he’s confident in his team’s chances, but it’s not because of the play on the field.
He explained it's his team's tremendous ability to encourage and lift each other up when the gridiron gets tough.
"They don't defeat themselves," he remarked.
"They may make a mistake every now and then and you just got to give them a pat on the back, but we can't change our personality. They are what they are, so we want to make sure they play the way they can. You got to give them the room sometimes."
Another rushing TD by Gavin Whittingham puts @TFSAthletics up 27-6 🏈 Extra point is no good, but it's still a 3-possession game going into the final frame of the 2nd BC AAA coastal semi-final | #PortCoquitlam @TriCityNews— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) November 28, 2021
That room has carried Terry Fox to an 8-0 record to date — regular season and playoff contests for 2021 — and that's with a younger core of athletes leading the charge.
This was proven in their semi-final match when junior varsity call-up Renzel Arinaza converted a touchdown pass against the Jugglers, and scooped up the ball for another score after Ravens' running back Gavin Whittingham lost his grip on it.
He then wrestled his way toward the end zone with 6:15 left in the first half.
Kudaba said Arinaza is likely to make another appearance in the final based on his performance alongside Grade 11 quarterback Owen Sieben.
"We've got some good Grade 10s that can play," Coach Kudaba added, noting there will be some fine-tuning across all lines in looking for 100 per cent commitment.
"As with all teams, you try to get them ready for the next game and you have them play up and dress up. We've got a lot of Grade 10s and 11s that can play. We're set for the next couple of years."
Renzel Arinaza picks up the bouncing ball and gets into the end zone, on a play that went exactly how they planned......— BC HS Football (@BCHSFB) November 28, 2021
PAT is Good!
Notre Dame - 6 | Terry Fox - 21 | 2nd Quarter pic.twitter.com/HM0C1Mz93B
The Grizzlies squashed the possibility of an all Tri-City school final after shutting out Coquitlam's Centennial Secondary 19-0 in the first semi-final last weekend.
Instead, it'll be an all-AAA East conference meeting on the BC Place turf with Terry Fox.
It's been a dream debut season for G.W. Graham after levelling up in the off-season to AAA for the 2021 campaign.
Their regular season reached 6-1, with the lone loss coming at the hands of the Ravens in a 34-0 shut out on Oct. 22 at Percy Perry Stadium.
The Grizzlies have also played one more contest this year than Terry Fox; they beat Mt. Douglas (Saanich) 27-20 in the quarter-finals.
The Ravens received a bye and automatic spot in the semi-finals after B.C. floods prevented Kelowna Secondary from travelling.
The 2021 championship kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. from BC Place.
Follow the Tri-City News on our social media channels tomorrow as we provide full coverage of the championship clash between Terry Fox and G.W. Graham and return here for a game report and photos after the final whistle.
- with a file from Mario Bartel, Tri-City News
Editor's Note: The 2021 AAA Subway Bowl is actually being considered a coastal championship. After the recent foods and road damage prevented teams from northern and interior B.C. from heading south for their playoff games, BC School Sports and the BC Secondary Schools Football Association elected to split the championship. Three teams from those regions contesting their own title.