Barsby, NDSS go helmet to helmet

The Kocher Classic AA varsity football matchup between the Barsby Bulldogs and the Nanaimo District Islanders kicks off Friday at NDSS.

Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football player Chance MacKay-Topley

Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football player Chance MacKay-Topley

It may or may not be a classic, but it should be some good, old-fashioned, all-Nanaimo four-down football.

The Kocher Classic AA varsity football matchup between the John Barsby Bulldogs and the Nanaimo District Islanders kicks off Friday (Oct. 5) at Nanaimo District Secondary School field.

There will actually be two neighbourhood rivalry games between the programs this week, as Barsby and ND’s junior varsity football teams play today (Oct. 4) at NDSS.

The almost-annual matchup is named for Ray Kocher, an administrator who helped launch the football program at both schools. There wasn’t  a slot in the schedule for the Kocher Classic in 2011, so now that it’s back, Barsby and NDSS have it circled as a big game.

“We love it…” said Brody Taylor, Bulldogs quarterback. “We follow their schedule and their wins so it’s fun since we know a lot of the kids on the teams and we’re pretty close.”

Another layer of the friendly rivalry is brother versus brother – Rob Stevenson coaches the ’Dawgs; Nate Stevenson coaches the Isles.

They’re both familiar with the other’s team, which makes game-planning easier and more difficult at the same time.

“We know what we’re up against,” said Nate Stevenson. They’re the No. 1 team in the league right now and they deserve that, they’re a good football team…

“We stand up, we fight in this game and we’ll use that as a measure. We measure ourselves against ourselves and if we can show up after the Kocher Classic a better football team, we’ve won.”

The Islanders have only just risen to the AA varsity division, while Barsby has played in the provincial final two straight years.

The ’Dawgs will be heavy favourites this week, but they know the Isles will be gunning for them.

“Every single team wants to beat us because we’re the No. 1 ranked right now,” Taylor said. “So every team, they’re going to bring it to us.”

Both sides are counting on fan support to add to the atmosphere.

“It’s a great opportunity to see some real spirited football,” Rob Stevenson said. “Both teams aren’t going there to waltz with each other. Regardless of the score, there’s going to be a lot of ice packs that day.”

GAME ON … The junior varsity matchup between Barsby Bulldogs and Nanaimo District Islanders goes Thursday (Oct. 4) at 3:15 p.m. at NDSS field. The Kocher Classic AA varsity football game between Barsby and ND is Friday at 1:45 p.m., also at NDSS.

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