Unlike past years, the Central Okanagan’s three AAA football teams will be getting a full dose of Lower Mainland opponents during the 2013 regular season.
The Mt. Boucherie Bears, Kelowna Owls and Rutland Voodoos are set to kick off the new campaign this weekend as members of B.C. high school football’s newly-aligned Eastern Conference.
The Okanagan AAA conference was disbanded for this season when the Salmon Arm Golds dropped out.
Bears’ head coach Mike Godwin counts himself among the proponents of the new conference alignment which features seven regular season games—five against Coastal teams and two against Okanagan opponents.
“It’s going to be tougher, that’s for sure,” said Godwin. “It’s better football, but that’s how you get better. I think it’s going to be good for all of the teams in the interior.”
Boucherie Bears @ Mouat
The Bears, who went 6-0 during the 2012 regular season, will be tested in their season opener on Friday afternoon as they travel to Abbotsford to take on the W.J. Mouat Hawks.
Mouat’s attack features Maleek Irons, considered by many as the best high school running back in the country.
Irons rushed for more than 3,200 yards in 12 games last season and has already piled up 787 yards in three preseason games.
“It sounds kind of ridiculous but if we can limit him to 200 yards or less, we’ll be doing well,” Godwin said of Irons. “They’re an awesome team, but at the same time our defence has been surprisingly good this year. We’ll see what we can do against them.”
The Bears more than held their own in preseason, losing 33-28 to perennial powerhouse Van College, then beating Notre Dame 24-8 last Friday night at the Apple Bowl.
Ben Minaker threw a pair of TD passes—one each to Spencer Humes and Cole Geisler—and ran for another. On defense, Brock Zeleniski had six tackles and a pair of sacks.
In junior varsity action, Boucherie whipped N.D. 40-8. Zac Callaghan led a dominant defense with six tackles and two sacks, while Dayton Moore caught two touchdown passes from quarter Tyler Toic.
KSS Owls @ Lord Tweedsmuir
The Owls will kick off the season Friday afternoon in Surrey against the Lord Tweedmuir Panthers.
Tweedmuir’s attack revolves around running back Jamel Lyles, regarded as one of the best players in B.C.
“They’re a solid team, we’ll have our hands full but we’ll try to find a way to shut him down,” said Owls coach Shane Sommerfeld. “We have to hope to stay healthy, control the ball and the clock and keep their offence off the field.”
The Owls are young this season with three Grade 10 players starting in the defensive secondary. Injuries have also been a problem in the preseason with four two-way starters missing last week’s 39-13 exhibition loss at South Delta.
KSS quarterback Shawn Gordon connected with Grade 10 receiver Parker Simson with two touchdown passes to account for the Owls’ scoring.
The Owls went 1-1 in preseason.
Rutland Voodoos @ Terry Fox
Pete McCall’s Voodoos will be in Coquitlam Friday to take on the Terry Fox Ravens in a tough, early-season test.
The Ravens are ranked No. 2 in B.C.
“We are definitely going to learn a lot this weekend,” said McCall, in his second tour of duty as the Voodoos’ head coach. “Hopefully playing the best early on will help us get up to speed, and get us ready for what will be a challenging year in this new eastern AAA conference.”
The Voodoos finished the regular season with a 1-0-1 record after playing to a 14-14 tie with Vernon’s Clarence Fulton on a blistering hot Friday afternoon at RSS.
Down 14-7, Mitch Walz hit Matt Walz with a TD pass midway through the fourth quarter for Rutland. Jason Varga converted the extra point to earn the tie.
Justice Dovich scored the other major on a pass from Mitch Walz.