For a team that didn’t even exist a year ago, the Windsor Dukes did pretty darn well making it all the way to the provincial junior AA football championship game this year.
Their run for an improbable gold ended there, however, as the Dukes fell 69-27 in the Subway Bowl championship final against Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies Saturday at BC Place. The Dukes rebooted their junior program this season after two dormant years, and after sliding into the playoffs with a 2-2 record they went on a tear to make it all the way to the championship game. The streak may have ended in silver, but it left a golden impression on Jim Schuman, who did double duty as the head coach for both the Windsor junior and senior teams.
“After not having a JV team for two years I thought this group had a great season,” he said in a note to the North Shore News. “They steadily improved over the season despite playing second fiddle to the varsity team in regards to coaching time and several of them even having to play and start at both levels.”
The Dukes fell behind early against the Grizzlies as star receiver Logan Buchwitz scored a long touchdown on G.W. Graham’s first play from scrimmage. The lead grew to 12-0 before Windsor quarterback Alek Giragosian got the Dukes on the board with a two yard run. G.W. Graham responded with two more scores to make it 27-6 but the Dukes didn’t quit, picking up a score on a 72-yard touchdown pass and run from Giragosian to Jordan Kwan. They then recovered an on-side kick which led to Giragosian punching in another touchdown to make it 27-20. The final four minutes of the half saw a huge flurry of activity as the Grizzlies scored twice and Giragosian notched his second touchdown pass of the day, connecting with Adam Murray for a 23-yard score. The half ended with the Grizzlies up 40-27.
Schuman credited Giragosian for leading the air attack with Murray and Charlie Campbell as the primary receivers, and Jacob Groves joining Giragosian in a ground game to keep the score close in the first half.
The heavily favoured Grizzlies – they went 4-0 in regular season play while outscoring their opponents by an average of more than 30 points per game – took control of the game in the second half, shutting out the Dukes while racking up scores.
Buchwitz ended up with seven touchdowns in what was the highest combined scoring total in provincial high school championship game history. Schuman said he was disappointed to see his opponent continue to run up the score while Windsor took the second half as an opportunity to get some playing time for all of his players.
“It is a sad reflection of our society when – with three seconds left in the game – trying to score over 80 points and getting your superstar his eighth touchdown of the day becomes an achievement to be celebrated,” he said. “However, we choose to look at the half time score which reflects the fact that we competed on equal footing as the other team and gave them their toughest contest of the year.”
The Dukes started their postseason run with a 38-27 quarterfinal win over Vernon’s Clarence Fulton before scoring a huge 36-26 semifinal victory over previously undefeated College Heights from Prince George Saturday in Kamloops Nov. 21.