It was a long time in coming, but "Oh yeah," a win by the Notre Dame Jugglers in the B.C. high school Grade 8 boys' football final was sweet.
The first-year Jugglers won their first Quadra Cup title in 27 years with a 28-26 victory over G.W. Graham Grizzlies at B.C. Place on Saturday.
MVP quarterback Steven Moretto, the hero of Canadian Little League champions Hastings baseball team, led the Jugglers with one touchdown passing and two touchdowns on the ground, including a five-yard run up the middle on a long, opening drive to start the third quarter.
Moretto also ran in a key two-point conversion on the ensuing play that gave Notre Dame a 10point lead and the cushion it needed against the game Chilliwack team.
"Oh yeah, once we punched that in, it became a two-possession game," said Moretto after the game.
The Grizzlies closed the deficit to 22-18 on a tipped 15-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Mannes.
But Joseph Santalucia put the Jugglers back in excellent field position with a big 26-yard kickoff return.
Mario Marra then showed off his importance to the team, bulling his way down field on three consecutive running plays and finally scoring the eventual game-winning TD on an eight-yard run.
"I loved the fact the kids never stopped. The fight in them never stopped," said Notre Dame head coach Joe Garcea.
"It's a testament to the coaching. The amount of time and effort they put in for a Grade 8 program is unheard of."
Notre Dame led 14-12 at halftime on a rushing major by Moretto and a 15-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Mauro Giammaria.
Notre Dame's Carlo Decoste was named the game's outstanding lineman.
The title banner was a big deal for the East Vancouver/Burnaby regional school that has not tasted victory in a high school football final since 1997, when the junior varsity team edged St. Thomas More 14-8.
The Jugglers varsity team has also been without a provincial banner since 1993.
In that year, Notre Dame defeated Vancouver College in only the second all-Catholic school matchup in the B.C. finals in the past 20 years.
"(The win) represents the entire community - the players that played before us and those that want to come to Notre Dame. It's for all the alumni - everybody," Garcea said.
"It's been an amazing year," Moretto said, adding that the sight of senior Notre Dame students in the stands with their upper bodies painted blue and spelling out the word Jugglers said it all. "I know how much it means."