Head coach Luke Acheson (middle) helped guide his G.W. Graham Grizzlies to a history-making AAA high school football championship (Joanna Hewitt photo)

Head coach Luke Acheson (middle) helped guide his G.W. Graham Grizzlies to a history-making AAA high school football championship (Joanna Hewitt photo)

TOP STORIES 2021: Historic year for Chilliwack high school sports

Grizzlies win first-ever senior varsity provincial high school football championship for city

The G.W. Graham Grizzlies made history in December, bringing Chilliwack its first-ever senior varsity provincial high school football championship.

GWG won three titles previously, all of them at the junior varsity level. But this was the big one, captured at the AAA level with a win over a perennial powerhouse at B.C. Place Stadium. The Grizzlies knocked off the Terry Fox Ravens in a thriller, holding on for a 36-33 triumph.

Coming on the heels of a historic AAA basketball championship in 2020, the football win cemented G.W. Graham’s status as a B.C high school heavyweight and had athletic director Jake Mouritzen looking forward to hanging the historic banner in the gymnasium.

“Words don’t give the football season justice,” he said. “Between COVID, biblical flooding and road closures, it felt like every day we had to overcome adversity, and this season will be remembered for the rest of all our days. I am so proud of these student athletes, coaches and families. This season was about more than that one game. It taught all of us how to rely on one another, how to trust each other, and how to come together and overcome all challenges and adversity.”

Across town, it was a successful 2021 for G.W. Graham’s new rivals at Sardis secondary. The Falcons won their first Pacific Conference title with a 4-0 record and gave the Grizzlies a tough test in the playoffs. In front of a packed house at Exhibition Stadium, Sardis fell 18-0.

“The football program has continued to grow and improve each year,” said head coach Sukh Parmar. “We expect to be very competitive in the years to come and we look forward to the G.W. Graham versus Sardis rivalry. This should be fun. Go Falcons!”

It was mostly a frustrating year for high school sports, with spring activities wiped out by COVID restrictions.

But when students filed back into schools in September, fall sports were allowed to proceed, and another local team made a run to provincials. The Sardis Falcons senior soccer squad only lost once in regular season play, going 9-1 on their way to capturing the AAA Eastern Valley Athletic Association (EVAA) title.

At provincials, which were held Nov. 25-27 in Burnaby, the Falcons finished ninth in a field of 16 teams.

Not the finish they wanted, but coach Shaun Calver said having the opportunity to compete was reward enough after so many challenging months.

“It was great to see the kids once again having an opportunity to compete for their school,” he said. “There were many highlights this season, culminating in the trip to provincials. However, the biggest and most important aspect of sport returning was watching the boys forge lasting friendships both on and off the pitch.”

G.W. Graham’s field hockey team also advanced to provincials and locals competed in the high school cross country championships.

“A very strong EVAA championship swim team at Sardis secondary couldn’t get to provincials in Richmond due to flooding and school closure,” noted Sardis athletic director Brad Geary. “It was a significant disappointment for those athletes who also lost their Grade 11 year due to COVID.”

2021 Year in Reviewchilliwack

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