A pair of Earl Marriott Mariner defenders make a tackle during Friday’s win. Below

‘Resilient’ Mariners win football title

Earl Marriott claims first-ever football banner after last-minute comeback over the Eric Hamber Griffins.

For the first time in school history, Earl Marriott Secondary will have a football championship banner hanging in the gym.

On Friday night in Burnaby, the Mariners’ senior team staged a dramatic comeback in the rain and the wind to steal a victory from the Eric Hamber Griffins, winning the AA Tier 2 championship game 7-6.

“I’m excited, but exhausted,” said EMS coach Michael Mackay-Dunn, who has been at the head of the football program since its inception in 2004.

“It was just an incredible game. I’ve been around this sport for awhile now, and this ranks right up there as one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of.”

The game was a turnover-filled, defensive struggle for both sides, with the Griffins – who started the drive deep in EMS territory – scoring on their first possession, but failing to convert the extra point.

The score remained 6-0 through the rest of the first half and into the second, with each team threatening to score at various points, but never actually punching the ball across the goal line.

Mackay-Dunn credited his defence – the linebackers and defensive ends, especially – for its ability to stall Eric Hamber’s offence by creating turnovers.

“Blocked punts, interceptions, fumbles… we had seven (turnovers), at least. I can’t even remember exactly how many we had,” the coach said.

The defence’s best work came late in the fourth quarter, with the Griffins up six points and threatening to add more.

Three times in the final five minutes, EMS defenders created turnovers – the most crucial coming when the Griffins fumbled the ball on the Mariners’ one-yard line.

“Our defence, they just throttled them,” said Mackay-Dunn.

After stopping the Griffins numerous times, the Mariners finally got on the board with 50 seconds remaining when quarterback Chris Ridley, on a quarterback scramble, rolled to the right before reversing field and diving into the end zone.

“He dove into the end zone almost backwards. It was an incredible play – only a real athlete can make a play like that,” Mackay-Dunn said.

Anvir Grewal kicked the extra point to give the Mariners the victory – but even that conversion didn’t come without raising the stress level of the coach.

The team’s long-snapper for extra points and field goals, Jaden Sanderson, had not played in weeks due to injury, but Mackay-Dunn told him to dress for the game anyway, in case they needed him.

The game-winning extra point was the only play Sanderson played the entire game.

“I don’t know why I told him to dress for the game, to be honest, but I look pretty smart now I guess,” laughed Mackay-Dunn.

Mackay-Dunn was quick to rattle off a laundry list of names when trying to identify players who were key to the victory Friday – Ridley, Nash Kinna, Nathan Brown, Sanderson, as well as cornerback Daniel Demron and Austin Golphetto, the latter two finishing the game despite suffering serious elbow injuries.

“We were just so resilient. The boys never quit,” Mackay-Dunn said. “If the game had ended 6-0, we still would’ve been extremely proud of how they played.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey council sets new rules for Good Citizen of the Year award

Candidates have more hurdles to jump before getting nominated for the prestigious local title

Lottery win ‘doesn’t feel real’ for White Rock man

$75,000 BC/49 ticket purchased at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre

EXPLORE SURREY: Tee up some adventures in the city

Also: A walk through Surrey’s public art collection

In honour of player killed in crash, Surrey soccer team becomes BB5 United

Brandon Bassi died a few months before CCB won the national title last fall

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ to find Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

Most Read