Hamber Secondary wins senior varsity football provincial title, first VSB school to win in 25 years

Athletics, Schools & Students

The Eric Hamber Griffins won the 2017 provincial Tier II varsity football championships in a spectacular game at BC Place Stadium, defeating Victoria’s Spectrum Thunder 28-21.

The Hamber team is the first public school team from Vancouver to win a provincial championship since John Oliver Secondary won a AA football title in 1992. Hamber is the only VSB football team.

Bobby Gibson, the Griffins head coach and a teacher in Hamber’s physical education department, said that after making it to the championship game three times, he knew this year he had the team to take the title.

“This is probably the best team that we’ve had to date in terms of experience and ability,” says Gibson. “We came into the season thinking that we had a chance, but we had a lot of roadblocks. Our starting quarterback was injured early in the year and then he had strep throat last week, but he recovered and was able to play.”

In front of a crowd of more than 500 people at BC Place, the Griffins players were determined to win, but at the half they were down 14-7.

“This year all the kids thought this was our year,” says Gibson. “They rallied after half time and scored three touchdowns in a row. Victoria scored in the last few minutes, but our defence held them and we won.”

Quarterback Arthur Lee says it was a good team game.

“We turned the ball over a bunch of times in the first half, but coming out of half time we came out swinging and found a way to get it done,” says the Grade 12 student. “I missed the three days of school leading up to the game, and was still pretty sick, but I think adrenaline and Gatorade helped me get through it.” 

This was Lee’s last high school football game, but he’s talking to several universities about playing football next year.

Gibson says his next move will be to build off what they have now, and keep the younger students around to grow with the team. “I feel like we finally have a base and kids are seeking out the opportunity to play,” he says. “This year we had six Grade 12 kids who’ve all been playing since Grade 8. That’s made a huge difference in our program.” 

The entire school supports the football program, Gibson says. He is the only staff member on the coaching team, with other coaches coming from the community, but he says the athletic director and school’s administration are really supportive.

Hamber wins provincial football title 2017