The Barsby Bulldogs are a bunch of tough football players, so they’re not easily spooked.
And they’re not going to be intimidated by the greatest AA varsity football team they know – the 2010 Barsby Bulldogs.
John Barsby Community Secondary School’s varsity football team won the B.C. championship last year. That accomplishment came many months and many graduating players ago, though – for 2011, the ’Dawgs have adopted an “Our Way” motto.
“You can poison yourself as the team after a championship by talking about last year all the time,” said Rob Stevenson, coach of the Bulldogs.
“Everything we do this year, we have to accomplish ourselves. We have to earn it. We have to do it our way this year with what we have, not on last year’s ghost.”
So far in the pre-season, they’ve been building an identity. They won all four of their pre-season games, showcasing an efficient offence, an all-new defensive scheme and dangerous special teams units.
“It’s a three-headed monster this year, which is really neat,” Stevenson said.
The coach said he sees “a commitment to creating something with 11” – every player on the field working in concert to achieve team goals.
“Nobody’s looking to get his name in the papers or studying the stats,” Stevenson said. “This team excels by trying to make each other better.”
Here’s a look at this year’s Barsby Bulldogs:
The offence is led by unflappable quarterback Isaac Mitchell.
“He doesn’t get flustered,” said the coach. “He’ll take a lickin’ or give a lickin’ and he’s back up on his feet getting everybody ready for the next play.”
Mitchell has potent weapons in his backfield with rushing threats Nathan Berg and Jacob Odynsky, both of whom averaged 13 yards a carry in the pre-season.
The receiving corps features Tyler Vollet, David Work, Robert Morris and Dylan Sanford, all of whom can block effectively as well as make catches.
The offensive line, said Stevenson, is one of Barsby’s best ever, consisting of tough guys who play on the edge. The group is led by Steve Morgan, Jordan Kuziek, James Robinson and Seth Amstutz.
Kuziek is the key member of a D line that possesses tremendous depth.
The linebacking corps is led by Brad Robson and Nathan Berg, while the defensive backfield features corners Robert Morris and Ricky Orr.
Coach Rob Stevenson said the D swarms to the ball and buries opponents under Barsby jerseys. When they’re in their road whites, they call it a whiteout, but on Friday (Oct. 7) the ‘Dawgs will be at home against the Ballenas Whalers.
“We’re going to be in our blacks, so get ready for a blackout on Friday afternoon,” said the coach.
Barsby has a tradition of celebrating the contributions of its special teams units, which it calls its “pride and joy”.
This year’s return unit features the dynamic Berg as well as speedy Robson.
Soccer standout Justin Sketchley handles kickoffs, Jacob Odynsky kicks field goals and Aden Blondin is the punter.
The coach said starting the regular season with a rivalry game – the annual matchup with the Whalers is known as the Border Battle – is the perfect way to start. Stevenson said the Parksville team is one of the hottest AA squads in the province, having missed a perfect pre-season record by only a narrow margin.
The top-ranked Bulldogs will usually be the favourites this season, and they know it. But instead of being overconfident, they will expect every game to be a tough one.
“We’re going to be facing teams that are very well prepared and very motivated and we can’t have a week where we think it’s done before the kickoff,” Stevenson said.
The AA varsity ‘Dawgs play their first regular season game against the Ballenas Whalers on Friday (Oct. 7) at 1:45 p.m. at John Barsby Community Secondary School’s Canem Field. Admission to watch Barsby’s home games is always free.