The American tradition of “Friday Night Lights” has moved north and found a home at the Pitt Meadows Community Sports Field. Here, after the school week has come to a close, Pitt Meadows Secondary School’s senior Marauders football team don its green and black and take to the field in front of hundreds of parents and sports fans under the lights in the autumn night.
The team was only founded a little more than five years ago, but Marauders football has quickly become something of a cult in Pitt Meadows.
The bleachers fill up early and the fans know their football, and aren’t afraid to tell the ref when they think he’s got a call wrong.
The AA senior varsity team won its first preseason game Friday on the road against Belmont Secondary, and hosts Burnaby’s Moscrop secondary Sept. 21 under the lights for the first time this season.
“The atmosphere is pretty amazing under those lights,” says Marauders program head and junior varsity head coach Kris Little. “It really gets the guys pumped up.”
The Marauders are the only local senior high school football team this season, are doing so with just 18 regular players, and only four Grade 12s.
But while the squad may be small in numbers, Little says they are big in talent.
At pivot is quarterback Joe Schuster, who will also be playing strong safety on defence.
Little hopes the opportunity to play the other side of the ball will help Schuster read opposing defences.
“He’s a big strong kid, so he’s up for the challenge,” said Little.
Schuster will be protected by offensive linemen Jonathan Rickman and Ben Zabierek.
Six-foot-four senior Anthony Gagnon will be leading the team’s receiving corps, while running back Tanner Hartley will be looking to gain yards on the ground.
On defence, Cole White, Callum Williamson and Colton Davies will anchor the defensive line, while Matt Chichka and Kyle Heiling will play at linebacker.
Little expects to see a number of his junior players make the jump to the senior team at some point this season.
“With our numbers, we’ll be relying on them,” he said.
The junior squad hasn’t had any trouble attracting players, with 31 students already on the roster.
The junior Marauders beat the Langley Secondary School Saints 28-14 in preseason action on Thursday.
Leading the team at quarterback is Schuster’s younger brother Jake, while Ryan Beaubien shows a world of promise with three touchdowns in his first ever football game.
“He’s a sprinter and was a member of the track team, but we managed to convince him to come out and play,” said Little.
Senior Marauders home schedule
• Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m., vs. Moscrop
• Sept. 28, 1:30 p.m., vs. Nanaimo
• Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m., vs. Rick Hansen
• Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., vs. Abbotsford Collegiate
• Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m., vs. Langley