NDSS plays for first-ever championship

The Nanaimo District Islanders Tier 2 varsity football team plays for a provincial title Friday (Nov. 25) in Burnaby against Howe Sound.

NDSS Islanders varsity football players move the blocking sled at practice Monday at Nanaimo District Secondary School field. The team plays for a provincial championship on Friday (Nov. 25) in Burnaby.

NDSS Islanders varsity football players move the blocking sled at practice Monday at Nanaimo District Secondary School field. The team plays for a provincial championship on Friday (Nov. 25) in Burnaby.

The Nanaimo District Islanders have already made school history this fall. And now that they’ve come this far, they may as well create some championship history, too.

The NDSS Tier 2 varsity football team will play for a provincial title this Friday (Nov. 25) in Burnaby against the Howe Sound Sounders.

“We’re so excited,” said Hudson Trepanier, Isles centre. “It’s time to get a banner up at the school.”

Friday’s Bob Ackles Cup will be the first-ever championship game for ND football, and the Isles, usually underdogs, find themselves as the favourites to win it all.

“It feels really good to be on top for once,” said Wyatt Bilton, defensive back.

In past years, when people have asked him how the game went, he’s often had to tell them that it wasn’t the best outcome.

“But this year, it’s like, ‘Wow, you won again, you won again.’ We’re really doing good. It’s going great.”

The Islanders went undefeated through the regular season, earning a first-round playoff bye, then won their semifinal game last week in the snow against Timberline.

The Isles are playing well, said running back Jacob Cheng, but their game isn’t perfect yet.

“So that’s definitely what our goal is for the game on Friday, is to get to perfection, which is a big step to get to,” he said.

Maybe the Islanders don’t even need a perfect game on Friday.

They already defeated the Sounders once this season, 21-12 at Nanaimo District Secondary School field less than a month ago. That victory is a boost of confidence, said Bilton.

“It is, but we can’t go into it too confident…” he said. “We’ve got to come into it as if we’re 0-0 right now.”

He said on defence, positional play will be important against the Sounders’ offence.

“Our linebackers need to be strong and we need our DBs to be really smart and not get too carried away with biting and pursuing,” Bilton said.

Cheng said on offence, ND needs to be the more physical team and take care to protect the football.

Trepanier said the Islanders need to pound on the Sounders.

“We’ve just got to put them in the dirt, get them dirty, cold and wet and take it home from there,” he said.

The Islanders aren’t necessarily used to the conditions, either, as they’ve never been playing football this late into autumn. The atmosphere, said Cheng, feels a bit different in a championship week.

“I’m pretty nervous myself,” said the Grade 12 veteran. “It is going to be my last high school football game so I’m just looking forward to going and leaving everything out there on the table and leave the game with no regrets.”

Players recognize their place in ND’s football history, and they want to cement it.

“I believe we really deserve the championship,” Bilton said. “We came all this way.”

GAME ON … The Islanders and Sounders kick off the Bob Ackles Cup on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Burnaby Lakes field complex … The game had at one point been slated to be played in Nanaimo, but the opposing team complained and got its way.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com