The Pemberton Grizzlies may have an easier time getting over a loss to their Sea to Sky football rivals than the loss of some key players last weekend.
The Grizzlies fell 33-14 to the Howe Sound Sounders in Squamish on Saturday, Oct. 19, in Squamish, but hung around in a game where quarterback Eldon Finck went out with an injury in the opening quarter. Meanwhile, lineman Mackenzie Graves appears to be out for the rest of the season after being hurt in a game against the North Delta Longhorns that wasn't completed.
On Aug. 31, the last time the Grizzlies and Sounders met up, Pemberton came away with a 20-14 victory in its home field debut. But Howe Sound defence was more effective in Saturday's rematch, holding the Grizzlies to under 100 yards offence.
Finck collided awkwardly with teammate Kex Nelson early the game and was unable to return, and was still being evaluated in the days following the injury. Nelson took over at quarterback and did an admirable job under centre, throwing a long touchdown pass to Dustin Lander that Pemberton head coach John Burleson called "a thing of beauty."
"Kex did a great job, really," said Burleson. "While we didn't win the game, it was the first time Kex had put three quarters in ... and we were really proud of his effort, his mental toughness and the way he directed the team"
The Grizzlies weren't able to establish much of a rushing attack, so Nelson's arm was called upon plenty of times Saturday, as Pemberton made 47 passing attempts.
Lander had both of the team's touchdowns, taking an interception to the end zone as well. Howe Sound also had all of its touchdowns courtesy of one player, as Cam Dare rushed for five majors and 130 yards.
Burleson said one of the newest members of the Grizzlies, German international student Daniel Klier, had a "monster game" at defensive end.
"He was everywhere. For a first-time player, he's really taken to this game," said Burleson, noting that Graves and Wesley Finck had strong games as well.
Graves injured his knee Sunday and likely won't return to the roster this year. He was one of four players hurt against North Delta on Sunday before the end of two quarters, prompting Burleson to forfeit the game with concerns that the Longhorns were playing with intent to injure.
"I've never had to do that in all my life of coaching," said Burleson. "The officials didn't control the game, and the players weren't out to play football. They were out to hurt their opponent."
Nelson and Eduardo Hudson were also banged up on Sunday, said Burleson, who has filed a protest with the B.C. Community Football Association over the game.
Not counting Sunday's game, the Grizzlies sit at 2-2 on the season and will look to improve that record in the next couple of weeks. The Grizzlies play the Correlieu Secondary School Clan in Quesnel on Sunday, Oct. 27, then finish the year at home against the Burnaby Central Wildcats on Nov. 2, a game that was rescheduled for Pemberton.
Fans can also support the team on Thursday, Oct. 24 through the purchase of doughnuts and coffee at the Mount Currie Coffee Co.'s Pemberton location.