GW Graham's Billy Hanson gets some tough yards in the season opener versus Mission. Hanson's Grizzlies lost 24-0 to the Roadrunners in the first regular season game in team history.

GW Graham's Billy Hanson gets some tough yards in the season opener versus Mission. Hanson's Grizzlies lost 24-0 to the Roadrunners in the first regular season game in team history.

Roadrunners blank Grizzlies in regular season opener

The GW Graham Grizzlies junior varsity football squad faced one of the province's top teams last week, losing 24-0 in Mission.

The GW Graham Grizzlies junior varsity fotoball team has a new rallying cry as they prepare for their Thursday night home opener.

Find your Batman!

It’s a phrase that first emerged on the bus trip to Mission, where the Grizzlies lost their season opener 24-0 last Wednesday.

Head coach Laurie Smith was describing one of GWG’s Grade 8 players, Miguel Wood.

“Miguel Wood is an excitable young guy who plays middle linebacker, and at a scrimmage on Tuesday he kept running up to the line, showing blitz and yelling, ‘I’m Batman! I’m Batman!” Smith explained. “When he got back to the sidelines I asked him, ‘Miguel. What are you doing?’ And he said, ‘Coach. I’m getting in their heads.’ And he did.”

Wood played fast, physical and just a little bit crazy.

Because of his antics, GWG’s rattled opponents couldn’t even get the snap from center to quarterback right.

The Grade 8’s dominated.

When the junior varsity squad faced the No. 2 ranked Mission Roadrunners, Smith was looking for the same passion and physicality from his older players.

He didn’t get it.

There were flashes, included some bone-rattling knocks from linebacker Kirkland Kennedy.

But overall, Smith’s Grizzlies played tentative football.

“We need to find someone to lead with that type of excitement and enthusiasm, and I know we have the guys who can do it,” Smith said afterwards. “Maybe building things up the way we have has been difficult for them. They haven’t loosened up and played football yet. Maybe we just need to relax and enjoy the game.”

Smith knew his team would be in tough against Mission, and the Roadrunners led 8-0 less than a minute in. Inderprett Herr took the opening kickoff well into GWG territory, and on the first offensive play from scrimmage, Herr reeled in a touchdown pass from Mission quarterback Jesse Walker.

Walker was a one-man wrecking crew for the Roadrunners.

No. 5 in green played  a Michael Vick-style game, inflicting a ton of damage with his legs while doing just enough with his arm.

Walker scored the second Mission touchdown, rolling right and bowling across from the five yard line.

Whenver Mission needed a third down conversion, it was Walker making it happen.

GWG quarterback Jordan Breuker was almost his equal.  Running the spread-option offence, the 14-year-old pivot had some big runs and made Mission defenders pay the price to tackle him.

Breuker got some breathers handing off to power backs Billy Hansen and Tristan Davis.

GWG was missing  a key part of the running game, with starting tailback Ryan Connelly sidelined by injury.

That might have made a huge difference late in the game.

GWG trailed 16-0 in the fourth quarter, but had the ball fourth-and-two at the Mission seven yard line.

The offence was stuffed on the fourth down gamble, and the Roadrunners quickly added to their lead on a Joeda Cannon touchdown run.

Had the Grizzlies converted and put the ball in the endzone, it might have been a one-score game.

Who knows what might’ve happened.

But if nothing else, seeing his Grizzlies hang with a powerhouse team until late in the game had to give Smith some hope.

“Those same guys we lost to were the same guys who played with the Mission minor football program, and we beat them badly every time we played them,” said Smith, who has a provincial title on his resume. “It’s not like they took a magic potion, and I don’t think junior varsity is 10 steps up from bantam football.”

The Grizzlies face the Robert Bateman Timberwolves Thursday night (6 p.m.) at Exhibition Stadium, with a number of pre-game festivities beforehand. Chilliwack football legend Rick Klassen will handle the pre-game coin toss.

Get info online at grahamfootball.ca.

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