Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 1 Matchups

2008 Baby, Here We Go!

Friday Games - check for times and locations.

Nanaimo District vs G.P. Vanier

Gridiron's Pick: The Islanders by 3 scores. The Islanders return a good crew and they had spring ball. This will be a hard hitting game as both teams like the physical side.

Earl Marriot @ Vancouver College

Gridiron's Pick: VC by 4 scores. The game will be played much closer than the score but VC has the advantage in size, talent and experience. Good on Marriot for scheduling VC!

West Van vs Ballenas

Gridiron's Pick: Ballenas by 10. This will be a bruising game defensively but the Whalers have the edge in the passing game.

Langley vs Mt. Boucherie

Gridiron's Pick: Langley by 6! Yep, you read it here, Langley will be the surprise team of AA this year and the first squad to get bloodied will be Mt. Boucherie.

Valleyview vs Salmon Arm

Gridiron's Pick: The Golds will run away with this one. In the real world Golieth usually picks David out of his sandle treads. Good on Valleyview for building some challenge into their exhibition schedule.

San Diego vs Hugh Boyd

Gridiron's Pick: San Diego by 18. Lets be perfectly clear here, the Haddow Bros. are not going to CA to pad their resume. They have a great Boyd team this year and they are bringing the Trojans south to cut their teeth on top flight competition. The Trojans will return different than when they left.

Rutland vs Lord Tweedsmuir

Gridiron's Pick: LT by 24. The Panthers are loaded and are on a mission. Rutland can play physical ball but the Panthers can go around, over the top and straight through. Good thing this isn't homecoming.

Omak (WA) vs Clarence Fulton

Gridiron's Pick: Omak by 21. This is a yearly pilgrimage for the Maroons and a game that makes the Fulton Squad better. This year is no different.

WJ Mouat vs Rick Hansen

Gridiron's Pick: Mouat by 18. A super rivalry continues in week 1. Mouat will be just too much to handle for the Hurricanes who will come out with tons of emotion but will leave the park looking to build a better mouse-trap.

Saturday Games

John Barsby vs Okanagen Mission

Gridiron's Pick: Barsby by 10. Last year's game up in Kelowna was a nail biter. Many players on both teams return to dust it up in round two. Barsby lacked mental focus and killer instinct throughout 07. This year's squad is a questionmark. OKM gets to travel this time and that could be the difference.

Mission vs Windsor

Gridiron's Pick: Windsor by 2 pts. This is easily the AA Game of the Week. Mission's no-huddle spread antics are accompanied by superb skill position players and a veteren cast up front. Coach Schuman however doesn't get surprised a whole lot and the shock and awe experience of standing in front of the Mission offense in high gear will be mitigated to some degree. I'd love to be a spectator at this one and thanks to the new on-line video sharing software I will be!! Life just keeps getting better!!

Timberline vs South Delta

Gridiron's Pick: Timberline by 1 pt. I say this very grudgingly. South Delta will have more experienced on-field talent but.....they have a big travel day and Timberline plays extra-nasty at home. If the home field situation was reversed I'd say South Delta by a couple scores. The Wolves will take this one.

Seaquam vs Kelowna

Gridiron's Pick: Seaquam by 10. Seaquam is a legit AA title contenter playing at home. If their fun and gun offense gets rolling it will be a tough day for Kelowna. If Kelowna want's to play a finesse game on offense it will be over before it starts as that is Seaquam's game. If they come out banging with their big, physical roster Seaquam's knees may buckle. On the bright side for the Owels, Seaquam has been a bit of a slow-starter in past years and is better late in the season than early in the season. Welcome home Coach Anderson and I hope you count your visit as a good one.

Carson Graham vs Handsworth

Gridiron's Pick: Carson by 2 pts. in another great Buchannon Bowl. Both teams seem to have started recent seasons kind of sleepy. This one will wake-em up and Carson has a few more athletes in the stable than Handsworth.

NorKam vs Burnaby Central

Gridiron's Pick: NorKam by 10. Home field counts for something as does being 1st year varsity and having to travel a good stretch to play. Norkam returns some good athletes in 08.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ranking The Conferences

Sorry Island and Interior, but the road to the championship is going to go through the lower mainland again this year. The two strongest conferences are easily the East and West. Lets take a look:

The number one ranking goes to the West. Here is the projected order of finish:

  1. Hugh Boyd
  2. Seaquam
  3. Windsor
  4. Handsworth
  5. Sentinel
  6. Burnaby Central

The top four could very well re-arrange themselves by the season's end. Any one of these four teams is championship quality. The conference schedule will provide plenty of big game experience headed into the playoffs. Sentinel is a wild-card this year but has historically been pretty tough down the stretch. Burnaby Central has a lot to prove. Tier 2 would have been a good move for that program.

The number two ranking goes to the Lower Mainland East. Projected order of finish is:

  1. Lord Tweedsmuir
  2. Mission
  3. South Delta
  4. Earl Marriot
  5. Rick Hanson
  6. Langley
  7. Frank Hurt

Frank Hurt is for all purposes at the start of a rebuild. It is going to be a tough campaign for the Hornets in 08. Langley is the wild-card in the division. Last year's squad could make a solid argument for being the most physical team in the division. Most of them return and coupled with the move to a larger school and a veteren atmosphere around the program, they should not be taken lightly by anyone. LT is the reigning king of the division and until they are unseated it is the Panthers followed by the rest of the pack. The reason for a second place divisional ranking is the fact that the West has possibly four serious championship contenders and the East has LT and possibly Mission. You can never say never in AA HS football but I'll stick to my guns on this one.

Third Place goes to the Island. Projected order of finish as follows:

  1. Ballenas
  2. John Barsby
  3. Timberline
  4. Nanaimo District
  5. Belmont
  6. Parklands

Until the Island can raise the competitive bar across the board, it will remain in the third slot. The addition of Timberline to the Island AA conference and the move by four programs to a Tier 2 division gives this conference hope. During the previous two years the Island was way too polarized between the haves and the have nots. The regular season just did not provide enough big games for the playoff bound teams to be ready for the big dance when the time came. This year has things headed in the right direction as Timberline's return to AA Ball will go a long way towards changing all that. Nanaimo District has also matured as a program and further solidifies the conference. Belmont is moving in the right direction as well and has the roster to bludgeon opponents. Parklands thus far as a program has demonstrated that it ought to have entered tier 2 in 08. No one has seen them on the field yet so this could be a premature remark, but I doubt it. Ballenas is the team to beat in this conference and Barsby is probably the team that can challenge them the hardest. Again, Timberline and Nanaimo District should not be discounted. Belmont has to discover the finnesse dimension of the game in order to break in to the top four. Look for the number one and two seed off the Island to play tough in the playoff tournament.

The Interior gets a fourth place ranking. Projected order of finish:

  1. Clarence Fulton
  2. OKM
  3. W.L. Seaton
  4. Westsyde
  5. Valleyview
  6. Vernon
  7. Norkam
  8. Penticton

The return of the Maroons! This has always been a very good quality program that is a dangerous adversary in the playoffs. This squad has the potential every year to run deep into the playoff tournament. The Interior Conference got better the day Fulton announced its return. OKM has a very dynamic quarterback and a lot of quality players returning with him for 08. On average, the rest of the pack is more talented and competitive than in year's past. With Fulton raising the bar in the division a surprise squad could emerge in time for the November tourney. It will surely be fun to watch this group develop during the season.

Monday, August 11, 2008

2008 AA Varsity Pre-Season Predictions

BC High School Football Pre-Season Predictions

AA Varsity

Pre-Season Top Ten

1. Hugh Boyd Trojans: Loaded with returning talent, AA JV Champs in 06, this team is ready to make a run for all the marbles. This year’s crew has played in a lot of big games and has made very deep runs into the playoffs at all levels. A punishing schedule will have this squad ready for BC Place come November.

2. Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers: The Panthers are big, strong and very deep at all positions. Coach Thornton and company can hear the clock tick in 08 as this is their last year of AA ball. LT wants to leave its mark in the record books by winning the championship that has proved elusive these past four years. If this crew has the patience to lean on people and bring their physical prowness to bear, they could be an unstoppable force. In the back of their heads however,lurks the 07 semi-final game. Way too much like the Lesner-Mirr fight this spring.

3. Seaquam Seahawks: Coach Pechet knows how to win the big ball games. Seaquam has quietly built one of the provincial powerhouses to be reckoned with. Varsity and JV championships are no stranger to the Seaquam program and there is a very solid foundation of second year varsity and solid JV’s moving up.

4. Mission Roadrunners: The young varsity squad took its knocks last year while the JV’s continued to develop a solid crew to move up. This is an “up-year” for the Roadrunners and a Coach Watrin led squad in the now mature Mission program will be tough to beat.

5. Ballenas Whalers: The Whalers are going to be tough to beat. The loss of only a half dozen or so players from last year’s playoff squad bodes well for team maturity and continuity within the program. Their quarterback position is very solid, they are faster as a team than ever before and they have a loaded coaching staff. The boys in blue play a tough schedule that will have them primed for divisional contests in October. A week two tilt vs #6 Windsor not only renews a great rivalry but could be a second or third round playoff preview.

6. Windsor Dukes: Never, ever count out the most storied and championship-rich program in AA history. Coach Schuman has another solid crew moving up to join his veteran varsity crew. The Dukes play an exceedingly tough schedule week in and week out this season. Should the Dukes prevail in key divisional contests vs Boyd, Seaquam and Handsworth a top seed in the playoff draw could pave the way to the Dome at the end of November. Nobody out-prepares Coach Schuman so this scenario is very possible.

7. Handsworth Royals: Oops he did it again! Coach Prepchuck wins another championship when seemingly out-gunned by his opponent. The Royals this year may have more talent than they did in 07! The league this year however is stronger than it was in 07. If there is a team in the league that gets better each week it will be Handsworth. Come November the Royals will be a dangerous foe. Look for a slow start that gains momentum as the season progresses. The West is one tough conference and a first or second place seed entering the playoff tournament will be a tall order. This is another year that will tax AA football’s Jedi Master’s coaching skills. He hasn’t faltered yet!

8. South Delta Sundevils: A terrific 07 varsity season has set the table for a very talented crew of athletes to join the returning varsity ranks. South Delta now has a pre-season swagger that wasn’t there a year ago. By all accounts this crew will be ready to climb the ladder to a second consecutive playoff appearance and from there, anything is possible.

9. Earl Marriot Mariners: The Mariners are ready to challenge their divisional rivals for top-dog status in the East. Big-strong and fast, the Mariners are moving to AAA ball in 09. They would love nothing more than to go there with an AA championship banner hanging at their school. It’s a scenario that is not impossible for this up and coming football program.

10. John Barsby Bulldogs: A scrappy 07 squad returns having lost only five players to graduation. This year’s Barsby squad has plenty of depth and experience to go along with the largest roster since 2000. There is no doubt that this squad can compete and this group could be playing for a number one playoff seed when they arrive in Parksville this Halloween for 2008’s Border Battle.

Honorable Mention: Rick Hanson Hurricanes, Clarence Fulton Maroons, Timberline Wolves.