Bulldogs one win away from bowl game

John Barsby Community Secondary School’s AA varsity football team plays the South Delta Sun Devils on Saturday in the semifinals at UBC.

Barsby Bulldogs player Dexter Shea

Barsby Bulldogs player Dexter Shea

The Barsby Bulldogs are getting used to making it to the B.C. championship game, but they know it isn’t a birthright – they’ve got to win to get in.

So that’s what John Barsby Community Secondary School’s AA varsity football team (8-0) will be trying to do this Saturday (Nov. 24) when it plays the South Delta Sun Devils (7-0) in the provincial semifinals at the University of British Columbia.

“We’re under no illusion that it’s time to start planning championship activities,” said Rob Stevenson, Barsby coach. “There’s only one way to get to that game. It’s by beating South Delta, and it’s our utter and complete focus.”

The ’Dawgs lost an exhibition game to the Sun Devils five weeks ago, 13-9, but they know they played far from their best game that day.

“They had some lucky plays and there’s stuff that we need to work on that we let them get away with,” said Brody Taylor, Barsby quarterback. “We tripped over our own players and missed tackles.”

South Delta is capable of forcing mistakes. It’s got a top-notch quarterback, Kyle Menzies, who gets great pass protection, allowing him time to find any one of a number of reliable receivers.

The Bulldogs will try to be positionally sound on defence and supremely focused. They won’t try to switch up too much to game-plan against the opposition, not at this time of year.

“We don’t want to change anything because we trust in our assignments,” said Kyle Vollet, Barsby linebacker.

The Bulldogs are dealing with a handful of injuries, but all their linemen are good to go and so they’ll try to win in the trenches. Barsby’s attack this post-season has been led by wingback Dexter Shea, who has nine touchdowns in two games.

“Offensively we’ve got to get to our blocking assignments and stay on ’em and then let our running backs do what our running backs do,” said the coach.

Both teams will be highly motivated to advance to the Subway Bowl at B.C. Place stadium Dec. 1. It’s the sort of pressure that could psyche out a team, or inspire a team.

“We use it as motivation,” said Vollet. “Yeah, this is a huge game; it’s to get to the finals. But we like to keep it cool, [play] it down as just another game and just stick to what we do.”

It shapes up to be a special sort of semifinal showdown on Saturday. It might be soggy. It’s sure to be spirited.

“It’s two prize bulls out in the corral, and there’s going to be dust in the air, no matter how hard it rains,” Stevenson said.

GAME ON … Barsby and South Delta are set to kick off this Saturday at 3 p.m. at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium … In other Barsby football news, the school’s junior varsity team has its semifinal against Mission today (Nov. 21) in Burnaby.