Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football players Tyler Hill

Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football players Tyler Hill

Barsby on a mission in bowl game

The Barsby Bulldogs and the Mission Roadrunners meet in the Subway Bowl on Saturday (Dec. 6) at B.C. Place stadium.

One team has scrappers, the other has the star power.

But even though the Barsby Bulldogs and the Mission Roadrunners got to the B.C. championship a different way, their paths have now converged leading up the Subway Bowl on Saturday (Dec. 6) at B.C. Place stadium.

“We’ve got to be our best and the ball’s got to bounce our way,” said Rob Stevenson, Bulldogs coach.

Barsby, the defending AA varsity champions, will try to match up against Mission and its marquee athlete, Jesse Walker.

The Roadrunners’ quarterback pretty much willed his team into the B.C. final, running for 338 yards and eight touchdowns in a 62-61 overtime thriller semifinal against the Ballenas Whalers.

“We’re playing a man…” said Stevenson. “Once we get our hands on him, we’ve got to hang on and we’ve got to get help in there, fast.”

Stevenson said the Roadrunners have a special offensive line and talented backs and receivers and would be a deep playoff team even without their star. But the defensive game plan will be built around stopping Walker.

“If we shut him down, we shut down Mission,” said Tyler Hill, Barsby linebacker. “It’s going to be, this week, really focusing on tackling and getting him on the ground [and] playing within our scheme, every guy on the defence doing their own job. It’s teamwork, really.”

North Rainey, Barsby’s quarterback and also a defensive back, said Walker can be contained if the Bulldogs execute and go to the right spots on the field.

“Get helmets to him, get his feet stopped and drive him back,” Rainey said.

The Bulldogs’ offence will be more balanced – no guy is likely to score eight TDs.

“If we run the ball hard, then it will open up our pass game,” Rainey said. “We’ve just got to do what we’ve done every other week to win.”

The Subway Bowl is a little different, though. Entering the big dome signifies that the players’ ultimate goal is within their grasp.

“It’s special, man,” Hill said. “It’s really, truly a one-of-a-kind feeling and it’s something that everybody definitely remembers for the rest of their life.”

The Bulldogs may be defending champs, but they know they had to scrap their way to get back to this stage.

“They’ve shown a lot of character this year, resiliency, patience,” Stevenson said. “This entire year has been a story of us overcoming challenges.”

Now comes the big one. There’s one more opponent, one more obstacle, one star to stymie, one score to settle.

“We’re in for a battle,” Stevenson said. “I don’t know if I’ll predict winners, but I’ll predict a lot of valour out there.”

GAME ON … Saturday’s kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. at B.C. Place stadium.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com