The future looks bright for football at Samuel Robertson Technical, in large part because of a father/son coaching tandem that has taken over the Grade 8 squad.
Head coach Mike Jones and his father Al are guys who can give SRT a strong dose of football culture.
Mike coached Grade 8 football at Maple Creek Middle School in Port Coquitlam for six years, and then spent seven seasons in the elite football program at Terry Fox secondary, as an assistant at various levels.
He was a high school quarterback, winning a provincial championship with the Terry Fox Ravens, and played for the Simon Fraser University Clan. He switched from QB to safety at university, and learned to play defence under the tutelage of an influential coach in Jerry Areschenko.
He had been out of coaching football for about six years, but his son attends SRT, and the school needed a Grade 8 coach.
His father Al jumped in too. He is retired, but also brings an impressive gridiron pedigree – he played defensive end for Western Washington of Bellingham in the NAIA, then was a high school coach with Port Moody, and won a provincial championship.
With this football savvy duo at the helm, the Titans have posted some impressive wins, including a 40-0 victory over Seaquam on Monday.
That game featured two long touchdown runs by fullback Braiden Balatti, another pair from quarterback Adam Jones, and one each from Carson Hiebert and Kale Cawley.
Mike Jones said Griffin Smith opened big holes playing offensive line, and Aiden Craig got his first start at linebacker and helped shore up the shut-down defence.
“We’ve got some good potential, and the kids are working hard and showing up every day. That’s all I can ask,” said Jones.
In what has been a great season so far, the Titans also beat cross-district rival Pitt Meadows 30-0, and lead the league at 4-0, scoring 144 points while allowing just six points against.
The Titans lost one game this year, 20-14 against Saint Thomas More. That has long been a good football program, and Jones called the game “a good litmus test.”
In the coming week they are in Abbotsford to take on Abby Collegiate, and a win there could set the team up as a contender for a provincial title, said Jones.
“If we can do well against them, then we’ll be in the mix for sure.”
The secret with Grade 8s is improvement. They have so much to learn, both in terms of individual skills and offensive and defensive plays, that the improvement over a season can be immense.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Jones said one year his team took on STM at the start of the season, and lost by 60 points. They met the same team in the provincial final, and lost a close game 13-6.
“I know first hand how people can change over a year,” he said.
He’s not trying to reinvent the game.
“It’s fundamental football. There’s nothing fancy about it,” said Jones. “In the end, it’s a game about blocking and tackling, running and catching.”
They win with a strong running game, and throw on five or six plays – just enough to keep the defence honest. The playbook will get more complicated as the team progresses.
“Passing is a tough skill to teach in the heat of battle.”
His plan is to move up the ranks as the players age, moving to junior varsity next season, then up to senior football.
He hopes to bring stability, where kids know there will be a team, and want to be part of it.
Jones wanted to give props to the junior team, which has been equally successful this season.
The junior varsity team is unbeaten in league this year, just coming off a 43-0 lambasting of G.W. Graham out of Chilliwack on Wednesday.
Their four wins in October were just as impressive: 37-0 over Holy Cross, 42-19 over Langley, 38-27 over Robert Bateman and 41-0 over Argyle.
Head coach Rick Pelwecki’s team has lost just one game, 16-13 to Mission in their first exhibition game of the season, but top the Valley AA division with a 4-0 record, and have a league-best plus-114 differential based on scoring 160 points while allowing only 46.
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