John Barsby Bulldogs players including Jaydon Easterbrook

John Barsby Bulldogs players including Jaydon Easterbrook

Barsby will get back to winning games

AA varsity high school football team kicks off the regular season this Friday (Sept. 23) against the Ballenas Whalers.

The Barsby Bulldogs are tugging at the leash for the season to start.

John Barsby Secondary School’s AA varsity football team is looking forward to kickoff as players are trying for their first win of 2016. The ’Dawgs lost both their exhibition games, but the pre-season was meant to be difficult and coach Rob Stevenson isn’t worried about team confidence.

“This team’s got a little swagger…” he said. “These guys aren’t going to quit, they’re going to go back to work … and [we’ll] keep our eyes forward.”

They’ll have to. Barsby plays in the Western Conference, which Stevenson said is “the toughest division in AA.” The season starts this Friday (Sept. 23) with the Border Battle, an annual matchup with Parksville’s Ballenas Whalers.

“The Border Battle is always a passionate football game and this one won’t disappoint,” Stevenson said. “They’re going to bring their A game; we’re going to bring ours. Look for fireworks going both ways. It’s going to be football in a very true form.”

The coach said Barsby’s passing game can be “lethal” by year end, but to start the fall, fans can expect the Bulldogs to be a run-first team.

“We’ve got a committee of running backs that are very fine football players and a fabulous offensive line, tough tight ends. We’re going to be able to run the football this year, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Stevenson said.

The Bulldogs will be quarterbacked by Ethan Laing, who will hand off to wingbacks Justis MacKay-Topley, Matthew Cooley, Dominic Bertrand and Kyle Gach.

The offensive line consists of Quentin Sherban at centre, Andrew Rantfal and Dillon Donovan as guards and Cody Maasanen and Carson Vos as tackles.

Other offensive contributors include tight ends David Wicks, Jaydon Easterbrook and Ibrahim Herwi.

The defence will be a physical group and Stevenson said the Bulldogs will be a very good tackling team.

The defensive line includes Easterbrook and Rantfal at the ends with Parker Friesen and Jadon Boese in the interior.

The linebacking crew includes MacKay-Topley, Cooley and Bertrand.

The defensive backfield consists of Dominic Boar, Keenan Hayes and safety Colin Nutting.

Cooley will handle placekicking duties.

GAME ON … The Bulldogs and Whalers kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at Merle Logan Field. Admission is free.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com