Vancouver College head coach Todd Bernett expected a close, well-matched Subway Bowl against the defending 2011 champion Mt. Douglas Rams Saturday night at B.C. Place. Instead, a 37-point margin of defeat left him dumb-founded.
He didn't just expect a tighter score.
"I thought we'd win," said Bernett after the final whistle, his Fighting Irish all taking a knee, respectfully watching as the Rams hoisted the championship banner and honoured their MVPs.
Mt. Doug beat College, the 2010 AAA varsity champions, 51-14 in a lop-sided game, the biggest championship blowout since Terry Fox beat WJ Mouat 56-16 in 2008. And until then, the record went to Notre Dame who beat Richmond 40 - 6 in 1987 before the AAA class was introduced.
"I really thought we'd win. I thought we had improved so much, I thought we would play well and win a close game," said Bernett. "Effort was not a problem. We had a little bit of confusion and we doubted ourselves in some situations at some moments when it mattered most. We just made mistakes, and you can't make mistakes against a team like this."
Mt. Doug mounted an incredible 507-yard offense, powered by five first-half touchdowns, including a 65-yard punt return from Marcus Davis, who then quickly scored on an 86-yard run. Mason Swift, named the championship MVP for the second year in a row, added 20 points on four TDs of his own.
Down by 20 in the second quarter, Liam Mahara put Vancouver College on the board and scored on a seven-yard hand-off. The Irish wouldn't come any closer.
Hesitancy of defense was their downfall, said Bernett.
Trailing 51 - 7 in the final frame of a game they were not going to win, the Fighting Irish were down but not beaten. Rashaun Simonise caught a 69-yard pass from Hunter Robinson and danced past defenders to reach the end zone. Score one for pride.
"We were trying to come back with a spark," said the leading pass receiver for the Irish. "Hunter threw a great ball. He just throws it wherever the defense is not and makes it really easy to catch."
Both Simonise and Robinson graduate after this season.
"It was good to finish on a high note like that, finish up our last completion of the season like that," said Robinson, who was also stunned by the 37-point spread.
"We came out expecting we were going to do well. Hats off to Mt. Doug. They played a great game and they held us. They're fast and they're big and they're aggressive so they're everything a football team should be."
The Irish hadn't suffered such a defeat since Nov. 2008 when they fell 38 points short of Centennial and lost 59-21.
"We've been through so much ups and downs through the season," said Simonise. "We were on a roll but Mt. Doug got better, too. They're a great opponent to play."
Bernett echoed his receiver. "That's a great team. That's the best team in this province, ever. I said it earlier in the week that we might be dealing with an all-time team here.
"They're good players. They have it - they're football players. They don't have it - they are it. You don't describe it."