The Subway Bowl has ended with Mt. Douglas finishing off the Windsor Duke's cinderalla-ride through the playoffs with a 41-20 victory. The Rams complete the season 12-0 and the victory was all the more sweet coming off of a 61-35 JV victory on Friday night vs the Mission Roadrunners at AA JV.
Mt. Douglas transitioned to AA ball in 2009 to rebuild a program that the coaching staff expressed concern over late in 2008. Was the move worth-it? You bet. Interest in the Football Program at the school has never been higher and projected roster numbers for 2010 will be higher than what was expected a year ago. The Rams will be moving to AAA competition next year and we wish them the best of luck. Given the strides this program has taken forward in 09, the Rams ought to be quite competitive the next couple of years at the AAA level.
Windsor, laden with 10th and 11th graders this year has positioned itself to be the early favorites to win it all in 2010. This program is just that, a "program" and several years of playoff experience has added-up to a group of underclassmen who know how to compete in the biggest games. Also, going three and four weeks into the playoffs year-after-year is huge from a developmental process as the cumulative amount of practice and preparation over this period is darn near the equivilent of getting a whole other season under their belts. Playoff practices are very high quality too!
Sooo, lets look at 2010. There are changes in the works in terms of conference alignments etc.
Firstly, I want to make a statement. There is a group of players and coaches in BC High School Football who practice, prepare, and compete just as hard as anyone at any tier in BCHS football. The coaches volunteer just as much time as their colleagues at other levels and all pour their passion and energy into the game of HS Football as proportionately and earnestly as everyone else. This group pays the same financial dues as all other programs and are members in good standing of BCSSFA. They are Tier 2 competitors. They are also media orphans who seem to get a bit of an organizational snub. Well, no longer. Time and energy allowing, Tier 2 is going to get covered on this site in 2010. From this group will emerge some great athletes and some programs who will find their feet and become lasting competitors at AA and AAA ball. For a multitude of reasons, be it demographics, coaching shortages, geography, other monopolizing programs in their buildings, or a combination of some or all of the above, these teams cannot compete at AA or AAA over the long haul of a season. Tier 2 is just the place and as the group grows and finds a measure of consistency, it is becoming quite a dynamic enterprise.
2010 Provincial SITREP (Situation Report)
Lets take a north-to-south look at the province: The Prince George (North)Conference just finished its innaugural year of full-blown BCHS play. Some valuable lessons have been learned up by the big bend in The Fraser and this group only stands to get better. The Prince George group will likely all play football at the AA tier in 2010.
The "Interior", notably Kamloops is going through some big adjustments. NorKam is going to be a Sr. High only with the other schools in the town maintaining JV programs. This translates to NorKam and South Kamloops becoming cross-town AAA rivals. Managed correctly and with much effort put into their JV feeder schools, both Kamloops Varsity programs could step closer to a return to the glory days of HS ball in the town when Kam High was a provincial powerhouse. The rest of the interior is going to have to figure out whether or not it is going to play AA varsity or tier 2 ball. Clarence Fulton and OKM are for sure going to be in the AA mix. The rest of the Vernon schools are a toss-up. Fulton and OKM are going to need to schedule as much quality competition into their 2010 season as possible in an attempt to be ready for the Lower Mainland/Island powerhouses come playoff time.
The Island will witness the departure of Mt. Douglas to AAA ball as they have already declared their intent to move to that tier. Timberline HS, who moved to tier 2 as a part of a measured decision to save the program early last September, has found that league to be a good fit. The Wolves won the Tier 2 Championship (Ackles Cup)and are not going to return to AA ball in 2010. Timberline will be joined by Belmont HS which will make for a very competitive Island/LM division at that level: EJ Milne, Belmont,Gulf Islands???, Nanaimo District, Mark Isfeld, G.P. Vanier, and Timberline.
On the Lower Mainland there is movement too. With the on-field success of their seasons at Tier 2, Howe Sound and Moscrop are beginning to mature quite nicely. These programs will be joined by Frank Hurt who has rapidly fallen into "life-support status" after the departure of the Coach Biggen/Heskin regime (smart move whoever made their position untennable!) There will be in all probability a Lower Mainland addition to AA varsity play in 2010 as Pinetree HS will be fielding a varsity squad after a year of in-house rebuilding at the JV level. Also, it appears that the AA Lower Mainland schools find being included in a conference with Island schools to be a travel burden that is excessive. Windsor and Handsworth in particular will likely rotate to the valley conference in 2010 and be replaced in the coastal conference by some Delta area schools (close to ferry terminal). This move and rationale will ultimately be laughable if either school (Handsworth in Particular)then goes on and schedules a pre-season exhibition game in California as in years past. We will see.
What it all boils down to is fourteen teams divided in to two divisions in the Lower-Mainland/Island.
GI's Projected 2010 AA Varsity Football Tier
1. John Barsby
3. South Delta
6. Hugh Boyd
4. Pitt Meadows
7. Rick Hansen
1. Okanagen Mission
2. Clarence Fulton
1. Prince George
2. Kelley Road
3. College Heights
4. Dutchess Park
5. Correlieu (Quesnel)
6. Nechako Valley (Vanderhoof)
7. DP Todd???
2010 Earliest AA Varsity Pre-Season Rankings in History
1. Windsor Dukes
2. Sands Scorpions
3. South Delta SunDevils
4. Mission Roadrunners
5. Handsworth Royals
6. John Barsby Bulldogs
7. Rick Hansen Hurricanes
8. Seaquam SeaHawks
9. Pitt Meadows Panthers
10. Okanagen Mission Huskies
Tier 2 Projected Conference In Ranked Order
2. G.P. Vanier
3. Howe Sound
4. Nanaimo District
7. EJ Milne
8. Mark Isfeld
9. Gulf Islands???
10. Frank Hurt
So there you have it. I think that on-balance, the competition will be very balanced throughout both leagues with a couple of exceptions.
It is going to be back to the off-season mode now for everyone. Remember the old saying, "You get better or you get worse, you never stay the same".
I will be writing a lot about program building etc. in the coming months.
Post-Script Comment: The other big winner in 2009 was everyone who bought in to and used the DSV video exchange system. It was terrific once up and running and we will do well to further develop our skills with this system!