Barsby Bulldogs player Jackson Mize

Repeat champions return to gridiron

NANAIMO – The Barsby Bulldogs AA varsity football squad, two-time defending B.C. champion, kicks off the regular season this week.

The Barsby Bulldogs could be coming close to a breakthrough.

The AA varsity squad, two-time defending B.C. champion, finally gets to play some meaningful football as the regular season kicks off this week.

It’s been a tough go so far. The ’Dawgs set themselves up with a difficult pre-season and it showed, as they went 2-2 and scored fewer than 10 points per game. Then an opponent forfeited last week. But this Friday (Oct. 16), the Windsor Dukes come to town and it’s a chance for the Bulldogs to bust loose.

“It’s almost like the hinge on the door of our season…” said Rob Stevenson, Barsby coach. “Our team is really rounding into form. I’m very happy with all phases of it and we’re intact mentally, spiritually and physically.”

Practices have been “electric and fun and fast-paced,” he said, and also productive.

“We’re concentrating on our alignments, assignments, technique, our physicality, being in the right place, supporting each other, cross-training.”

He’s seen enough to know that the Bulldogs are going to be “underpinned by great defence,” and the offence is making the necessary adjustments to be effective.

Leading the attack this year will be starting quarterback Nathanael Durkan, backed up by Austin Olson and Jackson Mize.

At running back, Justis MacKay-Topley and Matt Cooley are the primary ball carriers, but fullbacks Kieren Carreck and Cory Fletcher will contribute, as well. Barsby’s double-wing offence will also get wingbacks Dylan Saggers, Johnson Nguyen and Kyle Gach involved. The receiving corps is led by tight end Alex Bonnetplume.

The offensive line includes tackles Carson Vos and Jaydon Easterbrook, guards Braden Mackey and Dillon Donovan and centres Cody Maasanen and Quentin Sherban.

The defence features a potent linebacking corps, comprised of Fletcher, Parker Bowles, MacKay-Topley, Carreck and Daniel Vacsi.

Doyle Sosnowski and Ethan Xin Wei Hong lead the D line.

The defensive backfield includes Dylan Saggers and Olson, with Durkan and Cooley as the safeties.

There are enough good athletes all over the field that the Bulldogs feel confident about their depth.

“As juniors, this team always was gamers, but maybe a little undermanned over the years,” Stevenson said. “But they stuck with it, and we’ve added a few pieces … It’s really felt like we’re starting to jell. It’s almost perfect.”

GAME ON … The Barsby Bulldogs play the Windsor Dukes on Friday (Oct. 16) at 1:45 p.m. at Merle Logan Field. Admission is free.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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