Dominating in the air and on the ground is always a recipe for football success.
The Terry Fox Ravens proved to be unbeatable all year long, capping it Saturday by topping the St. Thomas More Knights 14-7 in the B.C. junior varsity championship final at BC Place.
It was a battle of quarterbacks, and Coquitlam's Conner McKee ended up holding all the cards.
Fox's 15-year-old quarterback threw two touchdown passes and did even more damage on defence, where he intercepted four STM passes to set the tone in a well-rounded team performance.
"No turnovers, that's what our coaches told us before the game," recalled McKee. "You don't want turnovers because it gives them a chance to score."
Turnovers turned into big plays for Fox, as time and again they stopped the Knights in their tracks. The decisive major came after a McKee interception.
The Port Coquitlam squad scored on its first possession and its first play out of the huddle, when McKee and his receivers debuted a razzle-dazzle flea flicker that Dylan Foulds ran in from 28 yards to make it 6-0.
Later in the half, McKee hauled in his first interception. Three plays later, he hit Mike West on a 62yard pass-and-run TD to make it 12-0. A two-point convert later, Fox was in control 14-0.
But the Knights, who gave the Ravens one of their toughest tests during the regular season, put together a long march that fell just two yards short of a major after a huge stand by the Fox defence.
Trapped deep in their own zone, the No. 1-ranked Ravens were unable to move the sticks and the ensuing punt set up STM's five-yard TD pass just before halftime. Neither offence was able to do much over the second half.
"Our defence just kept stepping up to every challenge they faced," noted head coach Dave Lehman. "STM is probably the most athletic team we've faced so they have a lot of weapons. But we were up for the game."
For Terry Fox, it was the third B.C. junior title, having won it in 2006 and 2007.
The Knights were full credit for limiting the powerhouse Ravens to just 200 yards on offence, but they couldn't prevent the final victory in a 13-0 season.
McKee completed five of nine pass attempts for 108 yards and two majors, while posting four tackles along with the interceptions. He was named the final MVP.
"Conner played phenomenally, it was our gameplan to line him up to their quarterback's favourite side. He did a fantastic job getting in the right spot," added Lehman.
The six-foot tall Coquitlam native said the team began the year determined to win - spurred on by the memory of a teammate.
"One of our friends in school passed away before the season," said McKee. "We got together and we'd decide to win it for him - for Bailey."
Jan Cabrera rushed for 45 yards on 15 carries, while West collected a pair of catches for 66 yards.
On defence, Isaiah Stevens picked up seven and a half tackles, while Sean Stewart contributed five and a half. Taylor Poitras and Jordon Seney had four tackles each, with Seney adding a fumble recovery en route to earning the game's top lineman award.