Barsby Bulldogs centre Will Cook

Barsby Bulldogs centre Will Cook

Defending-champion Barsby begins anew

The 2011 Barsby Bulldogs have a lot to live up to. The ’Dawgs aren’t afraid to look back at last year's championship team and make comparisons, but their focus is on the present.

The 2011 Barsby Bulldogs have a lot to live up to.

John Barsby Community Secondary School’s AA varsity football team is B.C.’s defending champion after a 2010 season in which it overpowered all comers.

The ’Dawgs aren’t afraid to look back at last year and make comparisons, but their focus is on the present.

“What I really like is this team’s gaining a sense of self,” said Rob Stevenson, coach of the Bulldogs. “It’s not last year’s squad, it’s this year’s squad.”

The Bulldogs, along with the rest of the province’s high school football teams, opened camp last week, well ahead of the start of the school year.

They’re not easing into things – practices are two and a half hours long and are physically and mentally demanding. Football school is in session – and the ’Dawgs don’t mind one bit that summer vacation is over.

“It’s a long, long way between the last rep of spring football and putting your pads on for real again in the fall. Getting it on is cathartic, I think, for all of us, including the coaches,” said Stevenson.

“Right away you could tell that guys have got a hunger and they’ve come here to work, not just hard but smart.”

The coach has put together a four-game exhibition schedule that starts Sept. 9 with a game against Holy Cross on the brand-new artificial turf surface at Merle Logan Field.

Stevenson is interested to see all the players in game situations, especially since he likes what he’s been seeing at practices.

“The work ethic’s here, the athleticism’s here. We stack up very favourably to our predecessors,” he said. “Assuming that we continue on tack, we’ll be in that mix again this year.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com