Last Saturday’s pre-season matchup between the senior EMCS squad and Eric Hamber from Vancouver was one of firsts, said Wolverine’s head coach Matt Mortenson.
Prior to the game start, the coach said the team was “very confident” and he hoped to run their plays as polished and as consistently as they could. That didn’t prove to be a problem in a fairly one-sided affair that saw Edward Milne roll over Hamber 61-6, with every member of the offensive line scoring. The team had previously never won back-to-back games — they beat Frank Hurt in Surrey last weekend 32-9 — or scored so many points in a single outing.
“It was just one of those days where everything worked — our running game worked, our passing game worked, our defence worked,” said Mortenson.
The weather was warm and the only real hitch of the day was a late start due to a scheduling mismatch with one of the officials. Despite the delay, the Wolverines started out strong scoring two consecutive touchdowns early in the game. The Griffins responded just before half time with a TD, but failed to convert the two-point conversion bringing the score to 34-6.
There was a brief scare in the first quarter when quarterback Alex Wright stayed down on the field with his legs in the air following a tackle, but the 17-year-old just had the wind knocked out of him. Lucky, too, since Mortenson said it was the best game the youngster has played so far.
“Alex was just brilliant at the helm. He was reading blitzes, he just felt in his comfort zone the whole game.”
Playing both offence and defence, Kent Cross was another MVP who made a spectacular airborne maneuver to evade a tackle en route to bringing the ball into the end zone in the first quarter.
In a funny twist, even guard Ashton Hunt scored. He had asked the coach for a chance to carry the ball late in the game if the team was up, and through an on-field miscommunication ending up slipping past the Griffins’ defence and running the ball all the way for a touchdown.
Mortenson said the relatively green Vancouver team, who has only been competing for two years, had a good passing game and a shrewd quarterback but lacked experience. At the same time, he doesn’t want their team to get ahead of themselves and acknowledged that things will change once the real season starts Oct. 1.
“It’s going to get very competitive. We are in a very, very competitive conference.”
There are six teams in the Island division, with only the top four moving on to the playoffs. The difference between first and fourth is “incredibly tight” and could be determined by the flip of a coin, he said.
The team’s next adversary is John Barsby Secondary in Nanaimo. A champion double A team that the tier 2 Wolverines won’t be facing during the regular season, they are a “football powerhouse” that will be an opportunity to see what playing a hard-disciplined team is like.
But for now, the team is savouring their victory.
“You don’t know how many times we were on the other end of this,” said Mortenson.