Maybe the Windsor Dukes are less than GW Graham head coach Adam Smith said they were.
Maybe his Grizzlies are even better than advertised.
Either way, a dominant performance in Saturday’s quarter-final has G-Dub heading to BC Place this Saturday, just one win away from a provincial final.
The Grizzlies punked the Dukes 34-7 under the lights at Exhibition Stadium, making one of B.C.’s most potent offences look totally inept.
Windsor got nothing going against the GWG D, though they ran every play imaginable. The Dukes constantly tried to get the Grizzlies going one way and come back the other, but GWG’s defenders wouldn’t bite.
“They ran a lot of trick stuff, reverses and things like that, and we knew we’d have to stay home,” said linebacker Miguel Wood. “As long as we stayed in our gaps we knew we’d be good. But we also wanted to play fast and physical and we did.”
Windsor’s best chance to hurt GWG came on their very first series.
The Grizzlies fumbled away the opening kickoff, setting the Dukes up in the shadow of the Grizzly goalposts. Led by quarterback Ryan Baker, Windsor picked up a pair of first downs, moving to the 10 yard line.
But they couldn’t punch it in, coming up short on fourth and goal.
“When we shut them down on that first drive they had nothing left,” Wood said.
Pinned deep in their own end after the turnover on downs, the Grizzly offence went to work in a familiar way. Quarterback Gabe Olivares dropped back and airmailed a bomb to Ethan Mastin 40 yards downfield.
That drive fizzled, but GWG’s next drive ended in a major when Olivares and Mastin hooked up for a 14 yard TD.
On Windsor’s next drive the Dukes found themselves facing fourth and less than a yard near midfield.
They were stuffed and four plays later the Grizzlies were back in the endzone.
Olivares took the ball on a sweep to the right for a four-yard score and Spencer Breslin booted the convert for a 14-0 lead.
G-Dub added one more before half-time. With 13 seconds on the clock Olivares ran straight up the gut, sending GWG to the break with a 20-0 lead.
Olivares collected his third major of the day early in the third quarter.
Von Richardson delivered a crushing pancake block and Olivares scampered in from five yards out.
“It’s just fun laying guys out and the reaction when they get up is just priceless,” Richardson said with a laugh. “Windsor’s D prepared well for our big plays, but we eventually adjusted and exploited the gaps they weren’t filling.”
Sam Nelson collected the last Grizzly TD, hauling in a 20 yard pass.
Windsor’s lone touchdown came on the second to last play of the game, the first points anyone’s scored against the Grizzlies this year.
“I think coach Adam might have talked them (Windsor) up a little bit because when I looked at them on film they seemed pretty average,” Richardson said. “I expected more out of them and they had potential to do some things, but we executed well and shut it all down.
“They tried all this school-yard stuff that doesn’t work in high school.”
— The Grizzlies will face Delta’s Seaquam Seahawks in Saturday’s semi.
Kickoff is 2 p.m.
The Hawks destroyed the Duchess Park Condors (Prince George) 77-7, though you can’t read much into that final score.
The Hawks are good, but probably not that good and they benefited facing an overmatched foe.
But, like every other coach in the history of sports, Smith likes being the underdog, and his description of the Seahawks sounded more Seattle than Seaquam.
“They are a very dangerous team and they could have the best offence in the province,” Smith said. “They seem to get the edge on your D at will and can get the ball down field to some amazing athletes.
“We are in tough but never back down from a challenge and we’ll look to be very disciplined on D with assignment perfection.
“We have stood by our Grizzly Tough slogan all season and I will be challenging the players more than ever to impose Grizzly Tough this week.”
Richardson and several GWG veterans have been to the dome before, including back to back provincial title games in 2013 and 2014.
He thinks the Grizzlies should have an advantage, not being awed by the situation and surroundings.
“I made my first trip when I was in Grade 8 and it’s a special place, but I’m used to it now,” he said. “We don’t get caught up in the lights anymore.”