Chilliwack’s junior bantam Giants set their sights on a provincial championship Sunday morning when they take on the White Rock-South Surrey Titans.
The title game kicks off at 11 a.m. Sunday morning at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park, with the Valley Community Football League champion Giants taking on the Vancouver Mainland Football League’s top team.
“Back in June we discussed this very thing, and I know the boys are ready and they’ve been chomping at the bit all season,” said Chilliwack coach Ian Parks. “We knew from day one that we had a special group of kids that would be playing for a provincial championship.
“We’re here now and it’s time to just do our jobs.”
All season long, the Giants have seemed destined for this moment.
Chilliwack went 6-1 in regular season play, outscoring overwhelmed opponents by a combined 153 points.
They had four wins by shutout, including 56-0 and 50-0 maulings of Mission.
The lone blip was a curious 62-0 loss to Meadow Ridge in mid-October, a result that stands out now like a banana in a bin of apples.
“That loss has helped make us the team that we are,” Parks said.
Chilliwack avenged the defeat in the best way possible, whomping the Knights by a 52-36 count in the VCFL title game.
This weekend’s foes offer another chance for redemption.
Chilliwack met the Titans in the final of the Bronze Boot preseason tournament in Surrey, with White Rock winning the game.
Parks recalls a conversation with Titans coach Ryan Quintana after the loss, where the White Rock coach said, ‘You guys get your job done, we’ll do ours, and we’ll see you in the finals in a couple months.’
“We knew they had a special group of kids and some very talented top-end players on their side and we knew the same of our team,” Parks said. “We thought for sure they’d be coming out of the VMFL, and as long we got past Meadow Ridge we’d meet them again in the final.”
The Giants have several stars on offence, but the guy with the gaudiest numbers is running back Yapoh Conteh.
An insane combination of speed and power, Conteh ran for 23 touchdowns this season.
“There are some games where we didn’t want to play him as often, because we want to make sure all the kids are developing,” Parks said. “There was one game where he got one carry and scored a touchdown. I could have given him the ball five times and he would have had five touchdowns.”
If Conteh is the thunder in the Giants backfield, tailback Jace Chappell is the lightning.
“He runs like the wind, and he’s done nothing but improve every single week,” Parks said.
Slotback Carter Dallas gives the Giants a devastating weapon in the receiving game, having caught 10 TD tosses this season.
“Not only can he make tough catches in traffic, but he’s dangerous whenever he gets the ball and his yards after the catch are phenomenal,” Parks noted. “And I think we have a really good field-general quarterback throwing to him, in Aidan Hewitt. Aidan will silently do his job and all of a sudden he’s shredding defensive backfields with his passes.”
Chilliwack’s defence takes a back seat to no one, led by shutdown cornerback Kaein Jenner.
“Nobody gets outside of Kaein,” Parks said. “His ability to tackle and read angles is phenomenal. Having him out there is fantastic, just knowing we can rely on him all the time.”
Ball-hawking safety Christian Beck comes downhill in a hurry to stuff runs, and in a game where turnovers will be uber-important, he’ll be looking to get his mitts on an errant pass.
“Linebacker Gavin Parks is a very smart player who can stuff the run or drop into coverage,” Parks said. “He has two interceptions this year and that’s because he sees plays before they actually happen.”
There are 34 players on the Chilliwack roster, ages 12 and 13, and any of them might be difference makers Sunday.
Parks can’t wait to see what happens.
“Our big message will be for them to just stay loose, have fun and play their game,” the coach said. “Once that whistle goes to start the game, it’s time to do our jobs. We’ve got a nice simple game-plan, and it’s all about doing our job and counting on the player beside us to do their job as well.”