Grizzlies survive character builder in Juneau 

Pemberton football team builds character both on and off the field in Alaska

click to enlarge TRAVEL TEAM  The Pemberton Grizzlies built some character on the road after playing the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears in Alaska.
  • TRAVEL TEAM The Pemberton Grizzlies built some character on the road after playing the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears in Alaska.

The Pemberton Grizzlies travelled a long way to play a game that featured a lot of scoring — by the other team. The local football team, which features players from Whistler, Pemberton and Mount Currie, played a lop-sided game on Saturday against the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears in Alaska.

Coach John Burleson said the trip was a great experience for the youth players who are between the ages of 14 and 17. The Alaska team paid for the airfare and Burleson said most of the team’s meals were covered so the only big expense the players had to pick up was their hotel cost.

“Everybody here in Juneau, which is a town of 31,000 people, treated us as rock stars,” said Burleson just before boarding a flight to get back home. “They were amazing up here for us.”

In addition to playing one of the best football teams in Alaska, the players got a tour of the area. The hotel operators took the team members for a tour around the historic coastal city and they also saw the Mendenhall Glacier.

“The guys thought ahead of time that we live around glaciers and its no big deal but the Mendenhall Glacier is a different type of glacier and the kids were just blown away by how amazing it really was,” said Burleson.

The night before the game the two teams had dinner together. Burleson said the players from the two teams had an opportunity to get to know each other.

“There was some of their players that were kind of eyeing our players competitively and there were some players that got together and sat down and acted like kids,” said Burleson.

When the two teams took to the field the Grizzlies hit the turf with a slimmed down version of the team as five starters didn’t make the trip.

“During the game we had players playing in different positions they’d never played before,” Burleson said. “Our offensive line was a patchwork line so they had to endure a lot of punishment during the game.”

Burleson described the match up as a David versus Goliath situation. The Alaska team’s defensive line is large. The hometown team scored more than 72 points by the end of the first half.

“We did not execute, certainly offensively, like we needed to due to the fact that our quarterback was under duress for most of the game,” said Burleson.

While the Pemberton team didn’t put any points on the board, Burleson noted that the Bears didn’t score any points in the second half.

Look for on Thursday in the print edition of Pique Newsmagazine.

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