Liam McCormick (right) and the GW Graham offensive line paved the way for running back Von Richardson’s 204 rushing yards in a 33-0 win over the Holy Cross Crusaders Friday night.

O-line paves the way as GW Graham Grizzlies crush Crusaders

Running back Von Richardson found plenty of room to roam behind his road grading offensive line.

The GW Graham Grizzlies are a team with championship dreams, but they know they’ll only go as far as their offensive line takes them.If the five up front keep quarterback Gabe Olivares on his feet and create space for Von Richardson to run, the Grizzlies have a solid chance to win their first ever AA varsity provincial banner.If they falter, if Von can’t run and Gabe can’t pass, then the Grizz aren’t going far.That’s a lot of pressure on the big boys, led by veteran Liam McCormick.The senior’s work ethic and intensity make him a natural leader, but he admits to being nervous when head coach Adam Smith wanted to name him captain of his unit.“I’m hard-working and I love my brothers and I’m always here for my team, but I’m not an egotistical person and I don’t want attention,” he explained. “Part of being captain is taking some attention for the team and that’s not necessarily my thing.”McCormick’s thing is working harder than the next guy and leading by example.“I love to stand out for putting in extra effort and it makes the players around me work harder,” he said. “I guess coach picked up on that.”Smith also picked up on McCormick’s talent and has him stationed at left tackle.There may be no more important position for the Grizzlies. McCormick is charged with protecting the blind-side for Olivares. One blown block that gets his QB injured and GWG’s season could be over.“I feel a lot of responsibility because if I’m out we can put another guy in my spot and carry on, but I don’t think we have another guy who can throw 60 yards like Gabe can,” McCormick admits.If pass blocking is an exercise in anxiety, run blocking is where McCormick and his linemates thrive.Driving off the ball and pancaking a linebacker?That’s fun!“Pass protection is too passive for me, and I’d much rather fire off the line and stick it to someone,” he said, grinning. “I pancaked seven guys last game and I’ll probably pancake someone in practice today.”“That’s what you strive for because if the other guy’s not on his back he’s running around making tackles.”“It’s the ultimate feeling of dominance throwing a guy all over the field.”The line has been in flux this season.Last season’s position coach, Luke Acheson, left to coach the Valley Huskers.Early season injuries forced guys to play in unfamiliar spots, yet the group has emerged better than ever.“All of our players are provincial-level guys who are used to new coaches, new playbooks, new everything,” McCormick said. “We need a guard? Even if I’m a tackle or a defensive linemen, we all understand the playbook well enough that we can play in that spot.”Through two regular season games the line seems to have it figured out. Richardson had gaping holes to run through Friday night as the Grizzlies steamrolled the Holy Cross Crusaders 33-0.GWG’s first series told the tale.The 10 play touchdown drive saw nine running plays, seven by Richardson who finished the game with 204 rushing yards.The team as a whole averaged 7.4 yards per rush on 34 carries and Olivares was given ample time to torment the Crusaders with deep passes.“The boys have been working hard for the past four seasons and they are one of the most technically sound groups in the province,” Smith noted. “We have not changed anything this year but have focused on developing depth so the big men can focus more time on one side of the ball.”“Combining the physical aspect with the technique has us really gelling.”GWG crushed the Crusaders in conditions that would leave lesser players whimpering.They fought through a combination of wind and rain that had the visitors seeking the shelter of a dressing room at halftime.Smith’s ‘Grizzly Tough’ theme seems to be resonating with McCormick and his teammates.“Coach yells ‘Grizzly’ and we yell ‘Tough’ and it just gets us going,” McCormick said. “We’re trying to be the best we can be as a team.”“It’s 11 men on the field and you’re never going to win by yourself.”— The Grizzlies are 2-0 to start the regular season and have yet to give up a point.Coming off a 32-0 season opening win over Robert Bateman, GWG’s defence pitched another shutout against  Holy Cross.The Grizzly D actually out-scored the Crusader O, with  defensive back Sam Nelson collecting a pic-six touchdown.The GWG offence scored majors on its first three possessions.Olivares opened the scoring on a two yard QB sneak.He hooked up with Ethan Mastin on a 70 yard touchdown pass and Richardson had the Grizzlies up 20-0 with a four yard TD run.Richardson scored on another four yard run late in the fourth quarter.— After two at home to start the season, GWG hits the road for a Friday night showdown with the Langley Saints, 7 p.m at McLeod Athletic Park.See for scores and schedules.

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