The Deuce Year Four
Tier 2 Varsity, AKA "The Deuce" is really coming along entering year 4. The conferences are set, the schedule is up, and the pre-season is just around the corner. Last year the league parity was outstanding and I believe that 2011 will pick-up where its predecessor left off in that regard. There are new programs this year to compete with the league's veteren core. One thing that really impresses me is that once struggling programs have developed a lot of stability and have grown roots in this league. New, big school programs are getting their first year of varsity play here and as we witnessed with Robert Batemen, have transitioned up the food chain to take their place in the mix. With several years under its belt, The Deuce has developed relationships and comraderie amongst its member programs and that has also helped to become fertile program building ground. This group is demonstrating solid health. Good! More football is great football!!
Ranking The Deuce
1. Belmont: Last year's Island Champs and provincial runner-up is reloading for another run at the Ackles Cup. Next year is AAA for the Bulldogs and there is an air of excitement about the program headed into September's crucible. Belmont plays an exceptionally tough exhibition schedule that begins with AA Ballenas on the road followed up with AA John Barsby again on the road and then cross-town rival AAA powerhouse Mt. Douglas. The battle hardened survivors ought to cut a swathe through their league schedule in October/November. The key to this team's success will be discipline throughout the ranks. Anything less than a very focused approach to the game will result in a loss in the big games of November/December.
2. G.P. Vanier: This team has it all! Numbers, size and speed that are unrivalled in Tier 2. In particular, the best running back in the league wears Towhee Green and White. The achilles heal across the past three years for Vanier is that they get out-finessed by the better offensive minds in the league. If Vanier really nails down their fundamental play up front and gets an answer to teams who can spread the ball around, look-out. These guys are a good pick to go all the way in 2011.
3. Timberline: The Wolves are sitting precariously at number three. These guys could fall off and tumble lower this year or conversely, they could make another run not only at the conference title, but for the Ackles Cup. Coaching is not the problem here, numbers are. If the athletes come out for ball, look for the Wolves to be back at their aerial ways this season. Key for the Wolves is the development of a solid offensive line. The backfield and receivers are in place and getting the big fellas up front out for ball is of the highest priority. If this mission gets accomplished, nobody in the league can chuck the rock like Timberline.
4. Edward Milne: Football is really taking off in the town of Sooke. Milne fielded a very competitive squad in 2010 and returns a solid core of players for the 2011 season. This could be a breakout year for the Wolverines. A big test comes early versus the Deuce's 2010 champs Frank Hurt in week 1. Week four has a visit to AA John Barsby as the final tune-up before a huge contest versus arch-rival Belmont. I think that this team is going to look back on the coming season when it is all said and done with fond memories. Darkhorse on the Island right here.
5. Mark Isfeld: This is a tough squad that could very easily finish in the top three of the division. Coach Sutton does an admirable job with limited help at his side each and every year. A key indicator of success is how many players return to play each year and he gets alot of em back! The Ice need to replace a good offensive backfield lost to graduation this past spring and the defense is going to have to pick-up the slack until the offense finds its feet. Pre-season is a good mix of opponents who will bring out Isfeld's best. Any thing better than a 2-2 September means these guys are are going to be serious playoff contenders.
6. Gulf Islands: The Scorpions play a very scrappy brand of football and in years where their numbers are up, they can be very dangerous when overlooked. Look for a fast back and some great misdirection from these guys. Defensively, this group tackles very well and does a great job of defending the perimeter.
1. Nanaimo District: A group of flat out tough guys come up from last year's JV squad to join a very good group of varsity vets in 2011. The Islanders have record numbers out for their varsity and there is a tangible buzz about this season's prospects amongst the players and coaches alike. I like this team's toughness, speed and football smarts. Opening games versus AA Ballenas and AA South Kamloops will prepare this group well for divisional tilts to follow. Nanaimo District has been a provincial semi-finalist two years in a row and this may very well be their break through year.
2. Frank Hurt: There has been a lot of sandbagging going on in terms of how well the defending champions figure to do in 2011. This flys in the face of the hard-work that has been done during the winter/spring, the calibre of the returning players and the momentum this large school has coming off of a championship. The Hornets are a legitimate threat to repeat in 2011 assuming the hard work continues and the players buy in. Offensively, this crew will be playing more out of a pistol look and stretching the field using fly/jet sweeps. The biggest challenge will be getting the offensive line up to speed. Defensively, look for the heat to come early and often from the opportunistic defenders. Opponents who buy into "rebuild" are in for a shocker.
3. Moscrop: This is a program on the rise. With the establishment of a JV squad this year, the quality of varsity play in 2012 is set to explode. This year's varsity Panthers are going to be switching to a more wide open attack offensively. Folks can expect size and physicality on the defensive side as well as improved overall pass defense. It is going to be very important for the Panther defense to give the offense time to develop. I think the September exhibition weeks are going to be a good seguay into October's league tilts. If the offense can keep the heat off of their quarterback and have enough run to balance their attack, theyse guys can challenge for the Ackles Cup.
4. Argyle: This is a very big school loaded with athletes out for its very first year of JV and Varsity ball. If the coaching staff is deep and if the coaching staff is patient enough to rep up fundamentals while keeping schemes simple, this team could be a player come October. A playoff seed is not out of the realm of possibility.
5. Eric Hamber: With a year of JV ball under their belts, Hamber's varsity crew will have some leadership on board as they kick-off their first year of ball at the more senior level. The keys to success are very similar to what I described with Argyle. I am going to be very interested in the outcome of the September tilts vs Mark Isfeld and Timberline. A victory or even close games would be a definite sign of good things to come.
6. Howe Sound: The potential always exists for the Sounders to rattle cages at the top of the divisional heap. There are great athletes in the school and more and more of them it seems are coming out for football. There is a new coaching staff at the helm this year so it will be a couple of weeks into September when we see which direction they are leading the program. Spring ball showed that there is much work ahead.
GI's Pre-Season Top Five
|The Hornets look to swarm back to the Ackles Cup in 2011!|
2. G.P. Vanier
3. Nanaimo District
4. Frank Hurt