Here We Go!
Well, well, the strike is over and the week 4 ripple to follow has ended. We are back at er in earnest now and this is good, very, very good. I am going to start this thing small, and see how the energies flow. At some point, there will be a piece on the whole thing we just went through, along with some other thoughts on the state of High School Football as a whole. It would seem that there are some long-term concerns/distractions, but I digress.
GI's AA Varsity Top Five
1. John Barsby Bulldogs: The Dawgs have a ferocious defense and are quite balanced offensively. Special teams are better than average as well. There is roster numbers and as the season unfolds, increasing depth as a large group of players who are new to the game, gain experience. I think week to week the Dawgs need to get more of the #2's on the field before I am convinced another run at the big game is a big possibility. There will be an increasing number of tests for this crew in the remaining weeks of the regular season. People bring their A game against Barsby and there are some very, very good teams that could ruin an otherwise perfect Dawg Day afternoon!
2. Mission Roadrunners: The best pure athlete in AA ball resides here. What makes him scary is that his technical ability matches the athleticism. What makes this team scary is the outstanding supporting cast, the fact they have all been in the same system since they first put on a HS uniform and the terrific coaching. Two years ago, the JV Roadrunners didn't come close to faltering en-route to a BC Championship. The JV's will be on hand to add an extra push come mid-playoff tourney. Look out BC!!
3. Vernon Panthers: Perhaps the most complete roster in all of AA ball. Vernon has been a consistent winner for the past three seasons and in my opinion, this is the best team it has fielded in program history. This could be a team playing in the big game come December!
4. Abbottsford Panthers: Abbey is getting better week to week and is can match-up against all comers in terms of roster size and depth.
5. Argyle Pipers: Breakthrough year for Argyle. Loaded with talent and playing consistent, aggressive and opportunistic ball. Lots of scores off of turnovers! They have yet to encounter the meat of their schedule, but have the horses to ride through it.
Honourable Mention/On The Horizon (in no particular order)
Carson Graham Eagles: These guys looked dang good against Ballenas for three quarters. Once the cobwebs are gone, the Eagles will surely soar!
Pitt Meadows Marauders: This is a group of tough-nuts who like to run the football rain or shine. Their defense is a reflection of the offensive mentality and there is good size up front. Come the rains of November, they will be tough.
Duchess Park Condors: Now a seasoned program, the Black and Gold is ascendent! Perhaps the second best squad north of Hope.
Holy Cross Crusaders: The Crusaders are tough, making progress and will peak entering the playoffs.
Ballenas Whalers: A bit short benched, but in possession of one of the elite offensive lines in AA Varsity ball. This crew will improve week-to-week.
Windsor Dukes: I can't wait to see what emerges out of the mists of North Van this year. It will be a green crew for all of a week and then improve possibly faster than any other crew in the province thereafter.
GW Graham Grizzlies: These guys have it all. Can they put the puzzle together for a playoff run?
Sentinel Spartans: Big, tough dudes up front. A massive improvement over 2013 in all positions.
Sentinel @ John Barsby: Both teams are coming off of a bye and would appear to be healthy at this juncture. Sentinel was a couple turnovers and some field position away from upsetting arch rival and budding powerhouse Arglyle two weeks ago. Barsby, played its most complete game of the season against Ballenas. The size advantage in this game goes to the Spartans. They have a hyper aggressive pair of defensive ends that can take over a game if given the chance. Numbers and experience go to Barsby along with home field advantage. GI's Pick: Barsby by 16 in a tighter contest than many may expect.
Windsor @ Carson Graham: Carson has one more game under their belt than the Dukes. The difference between playing game 1 and game 2 is manifest for most HS teams. Coach Schuman mitigates that somewhat, but not enough to prevail in this one. I think turnovers and big plays offensively will rule the day in Eagle Land. GI's Pick: Eagles by 16
Nanaimo District @ Ballenas: The Islanders usually play Ballenas pretty tough. The true difference in this game is going to be the Whaler Offensive Line. One of the best in BC, this crew will be plowing the way for several blue collar type running backs. I like the backfield speed and talent at receiver for Nanaimo, but this will be a slower, dirt track come Friday. GI's Pick: Whalers by 22
S.R.T. @ Robert Bateman: Batemen get the edge in experience to date this season. S.R.T. will still be working out the kinks when they run into a hungry Timberwolf squad eager to secure a divisional playoff seed. Too much for the Titans to handle too early. GI's Pick: Bateman by 24
Vernon @ South Kamloops: South Kamloops is playing its toughest game of the regular season come Friday. The offensive juggernaut of the Panthers will be supported by a superb run-stopping defense. Roster depth most certainly goes to Vernon. GI's Pick: Vernon by 26
Valleyview @ Salmon Arm: Intriguing. Tough to tell what Salmon Arm will bring to the table in 2014. Valleyview is several years into its offense and has roster continuity. I have to give a tip of the hat to the Vikings in this one based on what I know. GI's Pick: Valleyview by 10 in a game where both coaches will be stomping on their hats over turnovers.
Duchess Park @ Nechako Valley: This used to be a prime match-up in the Northern Conference. Right now, it seems that Duchess Park has no rival at the top of the heap in their division. By ground and air I see this as a big one on the scoreboard. GI's Pick: Duchess by 26
G.W. Graham @ Pitt Meadows: Game of the week in my books. The match-ups up front are superb and the team speed is similar. Graham has to play their most complete game of the year to have a legit shot at winning though. I think Pitt has been more on top of their game and can pound the ball offensively inside the tackles as good as anyone in the province. Defensively, stopping the big play via the air will be job one for the Marauders (love that team nickname!!). GI's Pick: Pitt by 9
Westsyde @ Clarence Fulton: The Maroons have owned this game since the last glaciation and I see no reason for them relinquish their dominance. This will be a run heavy game that sees Fulton pull away by mid-second quarter. GI's Pick: Fulton by 19
Holy Cross @ Frank Hurt: Holy Cross is a solid squad all around and will be one everyone should keep an eye on come weeks 8, 9 and 10 this season. They truly "Get Better" week-to-week. Divisional rival Frank Hurt will have its hands full defensively and fine that it is tough sledding trying to run the football. Rain on Saturday will make things all the more difficult. GI's Pick: Crusaders by 19
Hugh Boyd @ Seaquam: Big game already for both teams in terms of playoff seeding. Seaquam can score alright, but keeping opponents off of the board has been problematic. Boyd gives up size up front in this contest, but has a slight edge in team speed. The Seahawks have much more playing experience this year than the Trojans. If Troy can spy the screen game and prevent the deep pass, this will be tight indeed. GI's Pick: Boyd by 4
AA JV Rankings
AA Top 5
- G.W. Graham Grizzlies
- Abbottsford Panthers
- Mission Roadrunners
- Duchess Park Condors
- John Barsby Bulldogs
Ballenas Whalers, Seaquam Seahawks, Carson Graham Eagles