‘Dawgs chase dream in dome

Nanaimo's Barsby Bulldogs play for a provincial championship this Saturday (Nov. 30), taking on the Carson Graham Eagles at B.C. Place.

Barsby Bulldogs player Kyle Vollet rushes the football during a game against the Carson Graham Eagles last season in North Vancouver.

Barsby Bulldogs player Kyle Vollet rushes the football during a game against the Carson Graham Eagles last season in North Vancouver.

The Bulldogs are back in the big game.

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity football team plays for a provincial championship this Saturday (Nov. 30), taking on the Carson Graham Eagles in the Subway Bowl at B.C. Place stadium.

Barsby has been a powerhouse program for a long time, but it’s never a given that it gets to end a football season under the dome.

“You can’t overstate how rare it is to get in these games. It’s a major deal,” said Rob Stevenson, Barsby coach. “The next one may not come around for years, you just never know. It’s a perfect storm to get there and you need a more perfect storm to win it.”

Certainly the winning conditions are there – the ’Dawgs have already beaten the Eagles this fall, a 21-0 shutout just five weeks ago.

“Carson’s going to  come back with a better plan of attack against us and a better idea of our athletes and style of play,” Stevenson said. “On the flipside, we know them first-hand now, too … There are tweaks we can do to our scheme.”

Defensively, the ’Dawgs will game plan mainly against Eagles running back A.J. Blackwell – “He’s going to have Bulldogs hanging all over him,” Stevenson said – without sacrificing other coverages.

On offence, Barsby will be playing without its primary weapon as running back Brandon Parker is injured. Kyle Vollet is likely to be the feature back, with Tyler Harvey also expected to see some carries. The coach said the offence may need to pace itself differently since both Vollet and Harvey are full-time defensive players, but he thinks the ’Dawgs will be able to move the football.

“We still have our offensive line intact, we still have our quarterbacks, we still have our receivers,” he said. “We have a pretty dynamic offence. We can score on you a bushel of different ways, and do it quickly.”

He predicts a fast football game, filled with big plays and guys going full tilt.

“I definitely feel we can do it,” said Harvey. “We showed that we could beat them before. They kind of know what we are all about now so they’ll be a stronger team. So we’ll see what happens.”

Cole Virtanen, Barsby receiver, said his team is preparing to face the best team it’s played all season.

“To say that we can beat all the best teams to win the championship would be amazing,” he said.

That’s the goal, and it’s graspable, and there’s just one more game day, now, for the Bulldogs to go get it.

“We need to savour this moment in time because you only get it once with this exact group of people. And at the end of the day it will come and go…” said Stevenson. “It’s a very, very special thing.”

GAME ON … The Bulldogs and Eagles kick off Saturday at 3:30 p.m. To read about Barsby’s 34-27 win over the Mission Roadrunners in the provincial semifinals, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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