The glass shoe almost fit, but the G.W. Graham Grizzlies Grade 8 football squad's Cinderella story came to an end Saturday at BC Place with a heartbreaking two-point defeat to the Notre Dame Jugglers in the Subway Bowl Provincial Championship.
The Grizzlies lost 28-26, with the difference coming on a pair of missed two-point conversions.
The game was a back-and-forth affair featuring unstoppable offences, each of which floundered on their first possessions.
After the Grizzlies were forced to punt on their first stint on the ball, Notre Dame marched the ball down the field only to have an attempted touchdown pass picked off by Graham's Wyatt Uzick.
Back to square one, the Grizzlies' run game went to work, with star running back Emilio Pineda opening the scoring.
Notre Dame tied the game up at six, before the Grizzlies' Ethan Mastin punched the ball over the opposing goal line to put Graham up 12-6.
Notre Dame replied again, and added what proved to be a pivotal two-point conversion, to take a 14-12 lead into the break.
Gabe Mannes-on a throw from quarter-back Wyatt Uzick-and Pineda each scored touchdowns for Graham in the second half, but Notre Dame replied with two scores of their own to maintain their two-point lead.
And with 1: 55 remaining, the Jugglers converted on fourth down to seal the provincial win.
"It was pretty frustrating," Grizzlies head coach Laurie Smith said. "We could have won that game for sure."
Yet despite the final result, Smith was happy with the effort and the prospects the drive to the finals holds for the future of the football program.
"We have nothing to hang our heads over," Smith said. "This tiny, first-year program came within a convert of being the best in the province, and the coaches are so proud of the incredible effort put in by the boys."
Pineda's 179 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries was enough to earn him the best back award in the AAA Grade 8 Football Subway Bowl Championship.
Fullback Jaren Lengert was credited for opening running lanes for Pineda, while guard Jake Troyan led the Grizzlies' offensive line.
Defensively the Grizzlies were led by end Michael Lengert and defensive tackles Liam McCormick and Jaimey Bessette. Linebackers Spencer Breslin and Dakota Mathers each contributed four tackles.
But after scraping out wins against two of the best football teams in the province, the Grizzlies finally found themselves confronted with another unstoppable offence.
"I think I realized finally in the provincial game what we were up against," Smith said.
While the players were disappointed with the loss, assistant coach Jason Campbell told the players to use the feeling to motivate themselves to continue to get better.
"We can see a building block coming out of this game," Smith said. There's "obvious disappointment. But at the same time, we're super excited for next year."
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