Grizzlies up early for provincial clash

The GW Graham Grade 8 Grizzlies face an 8 a.m. kickoff Saturday morning in their provincial title game against Notre Dame.

GW Graham’s Grade 8 football team is excited to play a provincial final this Saturday.

But they probably wish they didn’t have to get up so early.

The Grizzlies face Notre Dame under the big top at BC Place Stadium, with kickoff set for 8 a.m.

The team is not staying in a Vancouver-area hotel the night before. Rather, they’re boarding a bus in Chilliwack at 5:30 a.m., planning to arrive at the stadium around seven.

If ever a bunch of Grade 8 kids had a case for drinking coffee and energy drinks, this is it. But head coach Laurie Smith doesn’t expect the early start to affect his exuberant bunch, who are absolutely jacked to be playing in the biggest game of their lives.

“We expect our guys to play their best game, because they know what’s on the line and understand the historical importance of the game,” Smith said. “They have responded well to pressure all season and we expect ND to be their toughest test. But we are confident that if the players do their jobs and execute, we will be successful.”

The first year team has accomplished great things to get this far, knocking off AAA heavyweights Vancouver College and St. Thomas More in back to back playoff upsets.

Their toughest task awaits as they take on a Notre Dame squad that went 5-1 in the regular season and knocked off Handsworth (34-14) and Lord Tweedsmuir (30-0) in the playoffs.

The Notre Dame offence is daunting.

They put up 30.5 points per game during the regular season, but they face a defensive monster in the Grizzlies, who yielded just 11 points per game.

If GWG can limit Notre Dame on offence, their own playmakers have a chance to win the game.

The Grizzlies were no offensive slouches during the season, putting up 28.3 points per game.

“We expect a really tough game from ND,” Smith said. “They are fast and aggressive and run a well executed jet formation running game. Their blocking and tackling is excellent and they are positionally sound and well coached. We will need our best game to be successful.”

Catch a full game report in the Tuesday Progress sports section.