Entering year three of its existence, Tier 2 A.K.A. "The Deuce" will deliver a better quality season and level of play than it has to date. There is a lot of continuity between last year and this year coupled with the addition of Frank Hurt, Robert Bateman and Belmont. The net result will be parity in the form of hotly contested games week in and week out. The Ackles Cup played to determine top-rail in this tier will feature two mighty-fine and accomplished football squads.
Ranking the conferences with teams listed in predicted order of finish.
#1. Island Conference: Parity in this division is huge! A bad game/slip-up by any of the top five could easily invert the entire order of finish. There will be no "weeks-off" on the Island and a failure to prepare will be costly. Beware of Timberline, Milne and Gulf Islands, they are not far off the mark.
#2. Western Conference: Bateman is run by a BC HS Hall Of Fame Coach and will get stronger with each passing week. Moscrop and Howe Sound are on the verge of taking their game to the next level. Frank Hurt has numbers, but needs to get focused.
#3. Interior Conference: Vernon has a solid history over the years and is capeable of putting a very good squad on the field. Westsyde is tiny in terms of numbers, but this is offset by coaching continuity and football culture in the school. Penticton and Mt. Baker are a big drop-off from the top two in their division, but deserve kudos for plugging away at building their respective programs.
Deuce Domination: Ranking The Top Five
Nanaimo District Islanders: The only team to defeat last year's Provincial Champions returns a solid group of players that is augmented by a very good group of battle tested JV's who are moving up. A very large portion of the 11th grade has varsity experience from the previous year and this will make an immediate impact on game preparation and intensity. The Islanders are not overly huge, but are very quick and nasty hitters. I like what the coaching staff has done the past couple years and payday approacheth. There is a feel around the program and in the school that this is going to be a special year for Gang Green. Bank on It! (Boys g. 11/12-230)
Belmont Bulldogs: Lurking within a numerically rich roster is a core of very tough and talented football players. If Belmont gets some confidence and momentum, they will thrive. This school is made for football and easily has the best home field at any level of play in all of BC in Bear Mountain Stadium. There is massive size up-front on both sides of the ball, a sledge hammer tailback and the defensive core really likes to bring a physical game. A hint to the coaching staff here, read-up on Bo and Woody. (Boys G. 11/12-500 plus.)
Robert Bateman Wolfpack: Coach Bill MacGregor is now building his third HS program! Coach M is a Hall of Famer and has won provincial titles at his former posts and this man stuctures his programs to win. The denizens of The Deuce had better not mistake this program as a stumbling, happy go lucky expansion program as that would be a big mistake. Look for a run based offense that is both patient and relentless in pounding the rock. Play action pass will lead to some big yardage and the Wolfpack defense will swarm. A week two exhibition tilt vs Nanaimo District will be an early season hi-lite with big ranking implications. Upset Alert! (Boys G. 11/12 310-plus.)
G.P. Vanier Towhees: This group features arguably the best group of athletes top to bottom in The Deuce. This group will fare very well in contests that turn into brawling, physical slugfests as that is how they like to dance. However, since the program's inception in 2003, the Towhees have a history of falling prey to finesse games and teams that spend a lot of time working special teams. If this team figures out how to play complete games, they may have no peers in the league. If....... (Boys G. 11/12-320 plus)
Moscrop Panthers: A fifth place ranking may be too low and it may also represent a bit of a motivational blessing for last year's Provincial Finalists. This year's squad is much like Nanaimo District in terms of experience and coaching continuity. They are also massive up front and with a run oriented Wing-T offense, look for some serious mileage on the odometer in 2010. Moscrop as a program is getting some legs under it and word out there has it, they are on the cusp of elevating their game to a whole other level. (Boys G. 11/12-300 plus.)
The Best Of The Rest
Howe Sound, Vernon, EJ Milne, Timberline, Gulf Islands: Any of these squads could catch fire and blaze their way to the top of the Deuce. The coaching, the rosters, are all there. GI's Darkhorse teams are EJ Milne and Timberline.
GI is looking forward to the 2010 battle to dominate The Deuce with great interest!! Best wishes to all who strap on their gear/coaching whistles and give their all! He knows you all play and coach with as much passion and dedication as anyone else in BC! Mad respect for all Tier 2 football players and coaches out there! Get After It!!!
OK Gang, its August and this means it is time for the removal of the cover of GI's 2010 pre-season crystal ball. This year's AA Varsity league is tougher than ever and watching the chapter that is 2010 get written is going to be fun, fun, fun! There are going to be some great games at Empire Field this November!
Ranking the Conferences along with projected order of finish.
#1. Coastal Conference: Brutally tough 1-6! Pinetree is in for a shocker. Projected order of finish:
#2. Mainland Conference: The top five are going to be intensely competitive and Langley could upset. Abbottsford is everyone's little brother at the top of the valley.
#3. Interior Conference: The top three teams will dominate. Going into the playoffs, the #1 seed will be competitive against a lower seed from down south. Fulton and Norkam are going to enjoy "up" years. The Bighorns will be mounted on everyone's living room wall.
#4. Northern Conference: Show me a Northern Conference team that can win a first-round playoff game and El Norte gets moved up from the crawl space to the basement.
GI's Top 10
Windsor: If you believe that players pick-up where you left off the year before, you gotta love Windsor's math on this one. This was a team that started 21 g. 10/11's in last year's final. Coach Schuman brings this battle tested wealth of talent back on the field in 2010. Technically unmatched, this crew is the team to beat this season. What is going to be fun is how the Dukes flex their playbook. Historically, when the Dukes abound with veteren talent, the offense gets very creative. Some advice for AA DC's, stock-up on the Tylenol.
Sands: The smashmouth Scorpions lost in overtime to the Dukes last year in the Semi's. This group of players has largely been together since their AAA days in 07/08 and will be gunning to pound opponents into submission week after week. This is a very big team at all positions and there is speed at key positions to accompany the size. Opposing defense would be well advised to drag some concrete meridean dividers off the highway into C-Gap in order to gain an outside chance of slowing things down. Teams that cannot move the ball over the top or around the Scorpion D are going to need another half-hour post-game to look for lost molars and such.
Seaquam: Go back and look at the archived varsity seasons on the BCHS website. One thing that will stand-out is the fact that since 2006, Seaquam has been the most consistent team on the plus-side of the win-loss column in AA ball. The SeaHawks have done so by ground and by air depending on the season. This year look for lots of balance and a good mix of shotgun and under-center schemes offensively. Defensively, it is likely we will see more blitzing than in years past. This squad will get off to a good start and will play upper crust divisional opponents with realistic thoughts of victory in mind. Look for a stunner vs Sands by way of a spread air and ground attack.
Handsworth: This is a definite "up-year" for the Royals. A very good roster core returns and the 10's who have moved-up are athletic and battle tested. The Royals will start slow in exhibition play and then gain strength as the season unfolds. I would liken the Royal defense to a large constrictor snake that tightens its coils as the struggle continues. Come playoff time, the Royals will keep every game close and a mistake free offense will take opportunistic shots at unwary defenders. This is a sleeper pick for the championship tilt.
Mission: This year's Roadrunner squad has lots of size, lots of speed, lots of talent and lots of experience. The offensive numbers are going to be very big by mid-season and body for body, the team as a whole matches up with anyone in the division. There have been a lot of near-misses and disappointments for this program since 2005 and a breakthrough post-season is tangibly close. This squad will compete for the divisional crown and will be tough to play at Empire shold they get to that surface late in the season. Keep an eye on em!
South Delta: The 2009 implosion must have been devastating for this squad. There has to be a hunger for redemption in the hearts of those who return. This will be a physically gifted group of players with outstanding coaching. The SunDevils will be coming in a bit under the radar but not for too long. Look for a very balanced attack offensively that is predicated on airing the ball out a bit more than last season. This will be accomplished with a wide variety of formations designed to isolate defenders and cover for soft spots on the offense. Defensively, there will be a lot of base heat and team pursuit from this group and a couple statistical ball hawks will emerge from the secondary. Opponents should heed the trick-play!
John Barsby: Nanaimo's Barsby Bulldogs have been making steady improvements since 2007 and will be in every game they play this season. The offensive and defensive lines are battle tested and veteren groups. The big question mark will be how the incoming class of g. 11 players adapts to varsity play as the senior game at AA is light years tougher than the regional JV conference. Special teams will be a difference maker for Barsby week-in and week-out. Opponents should look at some old tape and be on guard for some perplexing wrinkles to accompany. Much like Handsworth, this could be a sleeper pick for late round playoff action.
Pitt Meadows: The Marauders are below the horizon for now. Short term memories will not serve opposing squads well. Look back a couple years at JV and remember that this was one of the teams in the championship game of 08. With a solid year of varsity play under their belt, this group will be mentally equipped for all that the league can throw at them this year. With a couple breaks and the momentum of consecutive wins, these guys could catch fire and then who knows?
Hugh Boyd: This program has been too good for too long to write-off as anything but a playoff contender year-in and year-out. The roster is filled with talent and experience and the coaching staff has a history of consistently fielding winners. The Trojans will have to win vs Island opponents/Pinetree and knock-off at least one of the neighboring Sands, Seaquam or South Delta programs to make the playoffs. This is entirely possible.
Rick Hansen: Never count these guys out. A gob of talent graduated this past June but Hurricane Fans should not lose heart. This is big AA school with a very established program feeding the varsity squad. The coaching staff is superb and when one takes a good look at the historical performance of this group, they consistently get better as the season unfolds. The coaches will use their talent well and this team will be in the thick of most games they play. The trick for Hansen in a very, very tough division is to keep the score close as deep into the game as possible and then get opportunistic. I don't see a steamroller here but I do see a team that if it gets into the playoffs, will have done so by earning it and will have a savy confidence that is worth post-season W's.
Honourable Mention: Ballenas, Langley
The Interior and the North are notable by their absence. Again, show us some 1st round victories this year and we can begin the ranking discussion.