For the first time in the four seasons since Eric Hamber started a football program, the varsity Griffins will play in the post-season.
The achievement is one of the few bright spots in the city’s only public school football program, one that has been overshadowed by struggles and fair-weather attendance despite a small core of committed players and strong coaching leadership.
“It’s big for us,” said head coach Bobby Gibson. “Our Grade 12s haven’t known a lot of success. They have spent the rest of their football careers on the wrong end of some pretty lopsided games.”
Since the 2011 season, Hamber’s numbers don’t amount to much and for that reason are hard to count. The Griffins are a combined 2-16 in three seasons, the first and third spent in the second AA Varsity tier after a very difficult second year against more established programs in the top AA tier. In three seasons, Hamber scored 50 points and allowed 472.
“The guys that have been with us since the beginning have only won two games,” said Gibson.
James Hanoomansingh and Jordie Ginter were in Grade 10 when they played up with the varsity team during Hamber’s first win in 2011. They are now in Grade 12 and are the program’s first and only four-year Griffins.
“They […] have been rock solid for us this season,” said the coach. “It’s also been amazing to watch them develop as sound players and excellent young men.”
Hanoomansingh, like all Hamber football players, does double time on offence and defence. He’s glad the Griffins will play at least one more week but said the accomplishment isn’t the same since his teammates have dropped out of the program.
“It means less to me than if would if we had played this year with the same group of guys we started with,” said Hanoomansingh. “Regardless, I am excited to have a chance to compete in my last season of high school football.”
The Griffins’ second-ever win came in the first week of this month and is the reason their 1-3 record earned them a playoff spot ahead of winless Earl Marriott. Hanoomansingh put on an incredible show in a 10-8 win and Hamber’s defence was essential to putting the Griffins on the board.
The Griffins scored a safety and blocked a punt, which Hanoomansingh returned for a touchdown. Then, as quarterback, he ran for a two-point conversion.
“Our defence has been great all season. They keep us in the game through at least the first half and give our offence a chance with the ball,” said Gibson. “Our offence is due to get in the end zone. This will be our week.”
The first week of the post-season begins Friday for the Griffins. Hamber meets the undefeated Moscrop Panthers (4-0) 3:30 p.m. at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex.
“We’ll need more than 10 points to beat Moscrop,” said Gibson.
“The key for us against Moscrop will be to let the game come to us. It sounds cliché, but we get anxious and try to force things too much. If we can slow down and turn our emotions down, go play football and have fun, we'll get to do this for another week.”
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