The Border Battle is the sort of football game that’s perfect for Friday night lights.
The John Barsby Bulldogs take on the Ballenas Whalers on Friday, Oct. 5, in AA varsity action at NDSS Community Field.
Barsby and Ballenas have had a long-standing rivalry with the Atlas Truss Border Battle Cup as a prize and Rob Stevenson, Bulldogs coach, said the matchup motivates his team.
“It’s going to be a passionate and emotional game for the players and the coaches,” he said. “Our job is to be efficient and not let our emotions take over.”
Barsby is 1-0 in the regular season after demolishing Howe Sound 54-12 two weeks ago. Stevenson said his team is playing more complete football as it masters an altered game plan.
“I think our team’s gotten better every week, which is all you can ask for,” he said. “Running an offensive system we haven’t run before, we’re really getting our heads around it … They’re applying lessons learned in training and week to week, we’re able to use more people in the game plan.”
The Bulldogs have always been known as a run-first team that pounds the ball straight ahead, but has switched things up this year mostly to suit the personnel.
“We’re fairly light on linemen,” Stevenson said. “At Barsby we’ve always prided ourselves on power football, but with the attrition of the season, I didn’t think that was reasonable. But we can throw, we can run, we can catch. We’ve mixed in a lot of spread with some DNA from previous offences, so there isn’t a whole lot of learning new concepts. It’s just identifying where we can attack opposing defences in space.”
The coach said Barsby is running the same defence and said a lot of attention is being paid to special teams, with good results to show for it.
“I’m pretty excited with what we have. It’s shaping up into a banner year,” he said.
The Whalers present as an enormous challenge and have used a versatile run game to get over, through and around opponents. The line of scrimmage will be key, Stevenson said.
“If they blow us off the ball it’s going to be a long day,” he said. “If we can make them have to conduct long drives, hopefully we can force a mistake along the way.”
Friday night lights games at the new artificial turf stadium are something new and exciting for the high school football community. Stevenson said the game time works better for parents and supporters and said Friday night lights adds a certain aura to everything that’s happening on and around the field.
“We’re very thankful that the city of Nanaimo and School District 68 put together such a facility for this to happen,” he said.
GAME ON … The Bulldogs and Whalers play Friday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. at NDSS Community Field. The Nanaimo District Islanders AAA varsity team visits Spectrum earlier in the day. The following weekend, both local teams are on the road, with NDSS at Sardis on Oct. 12 and Barsby at Holy Cross on Oct. 13.