Thursday, December 21, 2017

Chasing Your Best!

I wrote this letter (this is an edited version) to our program.  It applies to all of us I reckon...

An Ode to the 2017 Season

A high school football season is precious.  A young man only gets four of them if he is lucky.  Each season is unique in that the squad is composed of a different cast of characters each with their own contribution to make.  Some year’s we are big, some years we are fast, some years it is a mix of both.  The mortar between the bricks is the ability to catch, run, tackle, block, kick and pursue.  The rebar that runs between the bricks is the marrow of the game; unselfishness, toughness in adversity, heart, desire and a love for one another.  The arrangement of the bricks is the ability to do one’s part to the best of his abilities within the team schemes for offense, defense, punt protection and coverage, kick-off coverage, punt return, field goal/extra-point and kick-return.   In short many bringing their A-game to the practice and playing fields to become one heartbeat, one play at a time in common-cause.  There is “individual greatness” inside each man and when it is all focused in one direction, with one purpose something beautiful happens.  Something bigger than the physical, something magic and spiritual that creates a play or series of plays that are in the moment, that have never been done in quite the same way before and will never be done the exact same way again.  It is a song in the moment, it is creation, it is the work of many hands and it lasts a lifetime.  Quite simply, it is beautiful.  Beautiful because it was made from scratch and the product of many striving in unison for perfection.  Perfection as individuals is being the best we can be with what we have in a moment in time.  Perfection is tiered, it gets harder to obtain with each individual added to the equation.  The game played in between the sidelines, on the field of battle against an opponent determined to disrupt your efforts at every turn within the rules of play demands the ultimate in terms of perfection.  Let us go back to the phases of the game: Offense (11 Players), Defense (11 players), Kick-Off (11 players), Kick-Return (11 players), Punt Team (11 players), Punt Return (11 players), Field Goal/PAT (11 players) defending the Field Goal/PAT (11 players).   Now that is 88 players not including the 2’s and 3’s that have to be trained-up to fill in at a moment’s notice with no loss of effectiveness.  Really, that’s 3 x 88 brains, bodies and fighting spirits that have to coordinate themselves with the goal of perfection in the moment, where every player has to succeed for the other 10 to succeed on a given play.  That number is 264 players that have to be polished and precise TOGETHER to succeed.  Most games vary by the number of plays played between 120 and 150 plays.  That means at a minimum you have to have 264 brains, bodies and fighting spirits preparing and striving for perfection with 120 opportunities to do so….that folks is 31 680 combinations of a perfect effort to make a perfect play in one game.  Now, a regular season is nine (9) games.  That is 285 120 opportunities to achieve perfection together.  A championship season would be 13 games.  That is 411 840 opportunities to be perfect in the face of the headwinds of an opponent hell bent on disrupting a perfect team effort in one season.  

Herein resides the greatness of the game.  There is boundless and quite frankly, exponential opportunity for finding one’s bets self.  The pursuit of perfection as an individual, as a sub-unit, as a unit and a team is manifest.  There is a seat at the table for EVERYONE and the recipe for perfection season after precious season draws from its human ingredients that are as varied as the society we live in.  Within a school building there is a group of potential players that are walking the hallways.  As a coach, they are what you have so you give them all you have and that gang is the social contract.  Helping each player find their greatness and guiding them to perfection as a team is the challenge.  Coaching staffs are again, if you do the math, a group of architects and engineers with a similar exponential task before them.  The staff must be coordinated in terms of training for the ultimate outcome.   All those opportunities gang, they add up to the journey that is a season.  A precious season like none that has come before and like none that will ever follow.  When the final whistle blew this year, the last page of the 2017 season was turned.  The afterglow of the season we all authored together like a novel just read, will resonate for the rest of our lives.  When you look back at it, the journey reigned supreme over any win-loss record. Shakespeare once wrote that good memories are like roses in winter or something to that effect.  As we grow in to the winters of our respective lives remember those TEAMS you played on and you will will always live in the full bloom of those memories! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Value of Football

-We're supposed to be living in very sophisticated times, with sophisticated young people.  All worldly wise and knowledgeable.  How can the game of football still be important in that context?  I feel that it's more important than ever.  Where else can we walk out there even--everything the same--and compare?  Look around.  Maybe the football field's the only place left.  Maybe we've already lost it everywhere else.-
-Paul "Bear" Bryant

Is football the last outpost of discipline?  The grind of the gridiron separates it from other sports.  Where else-in what sport or activity-does a man line up directly across from another who could very well be bigger, stronger, smarter, older and more talented?  Yet he is expected to compete intensely for 60 minutes.  We ask him to give no quarter and take none.
It's been said that the most competitive men play the most competitive games.  Coaches and players know the undersized men can win because nobody has a market on heart, desire, motivation, and the will to win.  Football reveals these qualities in men and rewards them.
Teamwork is necessary in all group sports.  Yet, football digs deep into the true meaning of team, simply because 11 men must coordinate their efforts.  Vince Lombardi said the best definition of team is "one heartbeat."  To gain this requires total commitment, demands selflessness.
These qualities are not inherited and are rarely demonstrated in a laboratory or classroom.  No, football develops them through the grind, the difficulty, the unity necessary to blend into one.
Have you noticed that a redwood tree can mature to a full 300 feet (the length of a football field!) when fully grown?  Did you know that its roots do not sink deep?  Actually, they are very shallow.  It would appear that any good wind could knock over any redwood.
Do you know why that doesn't happen?  Redwoods grow in clusters.  Their roots grab one another-much like hands gripping on all sides.  Our best football teams reflect the same dependence.  A man learns to trust and depend upon others.
Bill Curry taught me the smartest definition of leadership.  He calls it a powerful positive presence.  If you are positive, your presence will be powerful.  Think about it-everyone can lead under this concept.  You need only to bring a healthy attitude to your squad every day and you are positively influencing your team.
There is a verse in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 20:8: "Who is the man who is afraid and fainthearted?  Let him depart and return to his house so that he won't make other hearts melt like his heart."
Did you know that when you are weak, you can make others around you weak?  If your heart is melting, so will others.  If you are strong, others will draw on your strength.  Football has a unique way of building leadership.  The very nature of our game depends upon leaders to emerge.

-To me, no coach in America asks a man to
make any sacrifice.  He requests the opposite.
Live clean, come clean, think clean.  Stop
doing all the things that destroy you
mentally, physically, and morally, and begin
doing those things that make you keener,
finer, more competent.-
-Fielding H. Yost

Think about it.  Football has not really changed.  Fielding Yost penned this quote some 80 years ago.  It is still appropriate today.  It is no sacrifice to play football.  In fact, it's a distinct privilege, an honor, an opportunity of a lifetime.
I think we can look people in the eye and promise that if their son wants to play football, chances are good that they will see (a) improvement in his self-esteem, (b) renewed respect for authority, (c) willingness to cooperate with others, and (d) inclination to participate in everything more wholeheartedly.
I believe football develops character.  There is no easy way to practice football.  it is often the most difficult thing a man undertakes in his lifetime.  It prepares him for the trials and struggles of life.

-1989 AFCA Summer Manual.  Coach McCartney was head coach at the University of Colorado.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas One and All!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

AA Varsity Playoffs Round 1

Wild Card Weekend

Boy oh boy did the season go by fast this year!  We now find ourselves in the playoffs.  Lets take a look.

Friday, 10 November

John Barsby Bulldogs vs Langley Saints: Here are two teams who have quietly had very positive seasons.  Offensively, both teams are very similar in their style of attacking defenses and moving the football.  Defensively, they could not be more different with Barsby's stubborn pursuit oriented squad vs the ever attacking and opportunistic Langley crew.  Special teams will be interesting to say the least, particularly kick-offs and punts.  Size and team speed are pretty evenly matched.  Barsby's roster has a bit more playoff experience than the visitors.  Home field goes to the Dawgs.  This game will be a defensive struggle with a couple big plays either way making the difference.  GI's Pick: Barsby by 8  

Clarence Fulton Maroons vs Samuel Roberts Technical Titans:  SRT features some very big and skilled running backs and receivers.  They are no slouches up front either.  Fulton is playing on home dirt and is a real team in every sense.  The Maroons have a very tough running game and are a big play threat via the air at any given time.  Defensively, they are tough and swarm to the football.  The Fulton punting game is excellent and they can really get themselves on a short field using it. Coach Scheller is one of AA football's treasures.  His teams are a reflection of his leadership and they will always play tough, inspired football.   SRT is g. 11 heavy and a legitimate threat in 2018 to run very, very deep in to the playoffs.  They still have some growing pains however. Gridiron's Pick: Fulton by 10

Prince George Polars vs Argyle Pipers:  If PGSS can cover what is easily one of the top three passing offenses in BC, this game is winnable.  The Polars can run the football very effectively, have a multitude of good backs and lots of size.  Argyle however, is truly dangerous via the air, effective running the ball and for a spread offense, they control the clock in superb fashion.  The qb release is the fastest in BC.  Defensively, they are fast and aggressive.  I think PG just has not seen anything even approximating what is coming down the pipes on Saturday via the air.  It is not something you can prepare for in one week if you have not been in that type of a fight all year.  I also like what Argyle has become as a program.  They are doing things the right way and it is no accident that they are in the playoffs yet again.  There is a lot of football passion and "program push" behind the Pipers varsity success these past four years.  GI's Pick: Argyle by 19

College Heights Cougars vs Hugh Boyd Trojans:  College Heights, typical of their conference, runs the ball very well.  Running teams almost always are a reflection of their offensive selves when playing defense.  The Cougars will be physical, tough tacklers.  I have seen nothing however from them in terms of passing the football that would make me spend a huge amount of time working on defending the pass if I was to play against them.  Hugh Boyd should be able to load up against the run with at least eight in the box.  The Trojans can run and pass with equal effectiveness, a highly balanced group offensively.  The Trojans are also very, very fast. They have played the toughest of schedules all year and they have not faltered.  On top of everything else, there is the Haddow factor.  Two 30 plus year coaching legends who have led great teams in all the big games at all levels of play.  Their players love and respect em and I am sure in their hearts, want to cap their careers with something special on the field.  GI's Pick: Trojans by 26  

AA JV Playoffs begin next week.  I will have a set of predictions up in next week's blog post.

Best of Luck to everyone on and off of the field.  God Bless!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

AA Varsity Week 9

AA Varsity Week Nine

Gridiron's Top 5

1.  Windsor Dukes
2.  Vernon Panthers
3.  Abbottsford Panthers
4.  G.W. Graham Grizzlies
5.  Clarence Fulton Maroons

GI's Picks

Friday 3rd

John Barsby @ Argyle: This game is big for two teams who are finishing out their regular season "banged-up".  If Barsby wins, they are looking at being the #2 seed in the division.  If Argyle wins, there will be a three way tie that comes down to a points differential between Hugh Boyd, Argyle and Barsby.  Doesn't get much more dramatic than that.  Both teams are evenly matched on paper and both teams can score fast/turn in the big play defensively.  This is a very tough game to pick.  GI's Pick: Barsby by 1

Langley @ Robert Bateman: Langley is coming off of a big win and has a lot of momentum on their side.  Bateman is going to be going all out to clinch the W as put a positive on the season.  GI's Pick: Langley by 7

G.W. Graham @ Abbottsford:  This will be the game of the week in AA Varsity Ball.  The meat-grinder running game of the Grizzlies vs the wide-open Abbey offense that can run the ball extremely well in space as well as threaten any part of the field via the air.  Graham will have its opportunities via the air as well when Abbey loads up to stop the run.  Line play and coverage will be massive factors when these two come to grips.  GI's Pick: Abbey by 7

Clarence Fulton @ Westsyde: Fulton is coming off of fantastic performance in a tight loss vs the powerhouse Vernon Panthers.   The Maroons have plenty of momentum going in to this one and gas in the tank.  Westsyde is well rested and will turn in a plucky performance.  The Fulton ground game is going to be too much for the Westsyde defense to handle however.  GI's Pick: Fulton by 17

Ballenas @ Windsor: Ballenas is the best team that is not playoff bound to be playing this weekend.  Windsor has clinched the first seed in their half of the playoff bracket.  Danger time for the Dukes.  Normally, a coach would roll his bench pretty liberally in such a game.  Coach Schuman however, does not have much bench to roll.  The options are clear.  Get a big lead fast and use run time to end the potential bleeding or play as non-kinetic and finesse as possible to try to obtain the same result.  The Whalers are going to bring their A game no doubt.  GI's Pick: Windsor by 18

Hugh Boyd @ Holy Cross:  HC is playing this one for pride and Boyd is going lights out to secure a possible second or third place playoff seeding.  The Crusaders are easily the second best team that won't be going to the playoffs this year, they are at home and if the weather is pass friendly, they are dangerous as spoilers.  GI's Pick: Trojans by 16

Valleyview @ South Kamloops:  Good wind-up game for both squads.  This tilt will help a lot with off season momentum and program morale both ways.  I think the Titans have a deeper bench and will lean on their guests heavily in the second half of this game.  GI's Pick: Titans by 13

Pitt Meadows @ SRT: Another big game in the East sees a great match-up between these two regional rivalry squads.  SRT has the depth in this one.  GI's Pick: Titans by 11

Gridiron's AA Junior Varsity Top 5

1.  Vernon Panthers
2.  Abbottsford Panthers
3.  Holy Cross Crusaders
4.  Ballenas Whalers
5.  D.P. Todd Trojans

Sunday, October 22, 2017

AA Varsity Week 8

AA Varsity Week Eight

Week Seven Wrap

Big wins for Barsby, Windsor, Fulton, Vernon, Argyle, Abbey and Graham have now set the stage for our final two weeks of play.  The foundation for playoff seeding has had its first pour.  Next week it gets another big payload.


John Barsby 34 Hugh Boyd 13
Windsor 38 Holy Cross 0
Abbottsford 56 Langley 2
Nechako Valley 40 Kelly Road 6
Vernon 53 South Kamloops 0
Argyle 21 Ballenas 14
Clarence Fulton 50 Valleyview 0
G.W. Graham 47 Pitt Meadows 14
Samuel Roberts Technical 12 Robert Bateman 0
Prince George 33 College Heights 8

Gridiron's Top 5

1. Windsor Dukes
2. Vernon Panthers 
3. Abbottsford Panthers
4. John Barsby Bulldogs
5. G.W. Graham Grizzlies

GI's Picks

Friday 27th

Windsor @ John Barsby: This is the biggest game of the year for both teams thus far.  Windsor has shredded all who have come before them this year.  Barsby has been playing spurts of good ball throughout though they sometimes start slow or struggle for a quarter or two before gaining momentum.  This game see's good match-ups in most areas.  The L.O.S. will be contested and Windsor will challenge the entire field offensively.  The Dukes can really cause trouble with their misdirection, tunnel screens, option and the PAP that they have off of their run game.  Defensively, they get to the ball very well and in many ways are a bit of a mirror image of the Dawgs.  Barsby has great balance in their offense and are a big play threat on any given down.  Special teams are good for both groups.  Home field goes to Barsby.  GI's Pick: The game will hinge on tackling and not giving up the big play.  Windsor by 10

Abbottsford @ Robert Bateman: Abbey is gelling at the exact right time of the year.  Bateman seems out of gas and out of fight.  Look for the Panther tailback to have another big day come Friday.  GI's Pick: Abbey by 21

Hugh Boyd @ Argyle:  This game is going to be uber-close.  Both teams run and pass the ball very well out of their similarly designed spread offenses.  Both teams fly to the football defensively and relish the physical part of the game.  Special teams are similar as well.  In terms of trajectory, Argyle is climbing and Boyd is gutting out a tough, competitive season.  I think the Trojans are the hungry team here by a small margin.  GI's Pick: Boyd by 6

Westsyde @ Valleyview:  Westsyde is better across the board in this cross-town match-up.  Having a bye last week will ensure they are fresh as well.  GI's Pick: Westsyde by 21

Vernon @ Clarence Fulton: Game of the year up in the Interior this weekend.  Vernon is going to get its run-defense tested-tested-tested come Friday.  Conversely, Fulton will have to defend the pass against an an aerial assault the likes of which they have not come close to seeing this year.  Adding to the fun is the fact that this is a cross-town rivalry pitting "haves" vs "have-nots".  Kicking game and turnovers loom large here.  If Fulton can handle Vernon's big man, this one could be extremely close.  GI's Pick: Vernon by 12

SRT @ G.W. Graham: On the face of things, the Grizzlies should run rough shod over the visiting Titans.  The success of their offense is power running behind a big o. line with a great big fast running back.  SRT has the athletes to crowd the box and make things tough sledding for Graham.  Seems alright in print, but so far, no one has put the breaks on the Graham attack.  SRT won't either.  GI's Pick: Grizzlies by 15

Langley @ Pitt Meadows: Both of these groups need a win in the worst way.  I think Pitt can put more up on the board, but barely.  GI's Pick: Pitt by 2

Saturday 28th

Holy Cross @ Ballenas: Both of these teams play tough.  Both have had their frustrations on the field this year.  Ballenas is home and they have a power running game to play behind.  HC is far more one dimensional offensively.  This said, the Whalers have struggled vs the spread passing game this season.  Special teams go to Ballenas.  GI's Pick:  Whalers by 16

Sunday 29th

College Heights @ Nechako Valley: This is a big one for seeding up North.  Both teams have stellar running attacks.  College Heights has more horses than their hosts.  GI's Pick: Cougars by 10

Gridiron's AA Junior Varsity Top 5

1.  Vernon Panthers
2.  Abbottsford Panthers
3.  Ballenas Whalers
4.  Holy Cross Crusaders
5.  Earl Marriot Mariners

Honourable Mention: SRT Titans, D.P. Todd Trojans

Sunday, October 15, 2017

AA Varsity Week 7

AA Varsity Week Seven

Week Six Wrap

The Hugh Boyd Trojans served notice they are going to compete for a high playoff seed with a big win over Ballenas as did Barsby with a good outing vs Holy Cross.  Windsor made a statement scoring 41 against a good Argyle crew and Abbey/G.W. Graham are setting the table for a future clash that will determine first place in the East.  Up North Westsyde had a big game against South Kamloops. 


John Barsby 31 Holy Cross 7
Windsor 41 Argyle 20
G.W. Graham 26 Robert Bateman 16
Hugh Boyd 30 Ballenas 20
SRT 14 Langley 10
Westsyde 32 South Kamloops 14
Abbottsford 48 Pitt Meadows 7

Gridiron's Top 5

1.  Windsor Dukes
2.  Vernon Panthers
3.  Abbottsford Panthers
4.  Hugh Boyd Trojans
5.  John Barsby Bulldogs

GI's Picks

Friday 20th

John Barsby @ Hugh Boyd: Big conference game here.  Both teams are on a roll and Hugh Boyd has emerged from a very tough pre-season battle hardened and ready to go!  The Trojans had their way all day long with a tough Ballenas crew on Friday while Barsby was having fits with Holy Cross during the first half of their game before blowing things open in the second half of the game.  The match-ups are good in this one on offense and defense with special teams looking to be contested as well.  Hugh Boyd can score very quick via the run and pass at any point on the field.  Barsby seems to be a bit more methodical.  Turnovers and penalties loom large as difference makers.  GI's Pick: Trojans by 7

Argyle @ Ballenas:  Argyle is faster than Ballenas and they play a very physical brand of football.  The Whalers will do well to mind their perimeter and pressure the Pipers as the Argyle passing game is very lethal when their qb gets in a groove.  I have not seen any teams have a lot of success via the air vs Windsor, but last week the Pipers chucked it well against them.  Ballenas can never be discounted, especially at home.  The grass surface will slow the game down a bit and the Whalers have a very capable power running game.  I have to give special teams to Ballenas in this game.  GI's Pick: Argyle by 6

Valleyview @ Clarence Fulton: The Fulton running game is the best in the province north of Hope.  The Maroon defense is a reflection of their offensive personality as well.  Too many challenges for Valleyview to have to overcome in this one.  GI's Pick: Fulton by 21

Abbottsford @ Langley: Abbey is really hitting their stride now with the fastest back in BC doing his thing out in space courtesy of the wide open spread offense that surrounds him.  It is a pick-your poison challenge for a better than average Langley squad because they still have to defend the Panther's elite passing game.  Things for the hosts to pray for....wind, driving rain and favorable turnovers.  GI's Pick: Abbey by 19

Robert Bateman @ SRT: Bateman is on the cusp of a breakthrough game and this weekend folks, they shall have it.  SRT will challenge the edge offensively, but I just don't see em having a whole lot of success inside or throwing the ball deep.  The Timberwolves on the other hand can really spray the ball around and have a decent run game to accompany the pass.  Defensively, they have been in games with some very good defenses/opposing offenses.  GI's Pick: Bateman by 12

South Kamloops @ Vernon:  Another weekend, another glorified scrimmage session for the Panthers who have no peer in the interior.  Lots of great stats however.  GI's Pick: Vernon by 28

G.W. Graham @ Pitt Meadows: The Grizzlies have their formula down.  Power football with a lethal spread passing game.   Pitt is going to have to crowd the box, man-up on the edge and fight like lions for 4 quarters.  Turnovers and a big play or two on offense for Pitt may help some.  GI's Pick: Graham by 19

Saturday 21st

Windsor @ Holy Cross:  Holy Cross is a lot better than their record would indicate.  This said, Windsor is the best team in AA Varsity Football right now and they will savage the Crusaders on the edge all afternoon long.  GI's Pick: Windsor by 26

Sunday 22nd

Prince George @ College Heights: This is for first and second place in the Northern Conference.  College Heights is on a roll people.  Momentum in HS Football is not to be underestimated.  GI's Pick: Cougars by 7

Gridiron's AA Junior Varsity Top 5

1.  Vernon Panthers
2.  Abbottsford Panthers
3.  Ballenas Whalers
4.  Holy Cross Crusaders
5.  Langley Saints