A good way to rebuild a senior football program is to concentrate on junior varsity.
Such is the case at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary where, for just the second time since 1996, there is no Maroons senior varsity squad in 2021 due to a lack of players.
The junior vee group at Fulton is progressing nicely, says head coach Mike Scheller, heading into their first exhibition game Thursday, Sept. 9, in Kamloops against the Westsyde Blue Wave. It will be a controlled scrimmage for both teams.
“We have a solid core of enthusiastic Grade 9-10 boys who have been a lot of fun to coach,” said Scheller. “The team is very inexperienced, but the coaching staff likes the work ethic and attitude of the JVs who are all learning the game of football.”
Scheller pointed out linemen Adam Levesque, Nic Newman and Brett O’Dwyer as all having had solid camps and will be big contributors to the team. Running backs and linebackers Mason Macaskill and Kolby Robinson should have solid seasons. Luca Van de Vosse has played well at receiver and safety.
“I really expect this team to progress nicely this season,” said Scheller, whose squad will be in the six-team AA Interior Division along with cross-town rivals Vernon Panthers, provincial champions in 2017. The two will also play regular-season games against the pair of AAA Hybrid Division squads from Kelowna and West Kelowna, the Rutland Voodoos and the Mt. Boucherie Bears, respectively.
Up the hill at VSS, football guru Sean Smith will help out the Jay-Vees who are guided by head coach Brett Fitzpatrick. The junior Cats, said Smith, will be “very raw and green,” as they only have two players with high school experience.
”However, like the seniors, they were equally dedicated in the weight room and the field during the pandemic and, I think, we will see a steep learning curve with them,” said Smith, who has guided the senior Panthers to back-to-back B.C. champonships, and are ranked No. 1 in the 2021 pre-season coaches poll for AA teams.
“I really believe that the culture of football that’s been created by our past Panthers and current seniors is a huge factor in the future success of our program. The juniors are buying into that culture, and I expect them to be competitive very soon.”
VSS plays Thursday, Sept. 9, at 3:30 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletics Park against the South Kamloops Titans in a controlled scrimmage.
The season starts for real for both Vernon schools Wednesday, Sept. 22. The Maroons will host the Salmon Arm Golds at Fulton Secondary at 4 p.m.while the Panthers will visit the Voodoos in Rutland.
Fulton and VSS will close out the regular season playing each other at GVAP Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m.
Vernon Minor Football gets its 2021 regular season underway this weekend.
“We are running a tackle season for three divisions, Atom, Peewee and Junior Bantam,” said VMF president Mark Budgeon. “All of our home games for all teams are at Greater Vernon Athletics Park.”
Two teams will play at home Sunday, Sept. 12. The Vernon Magnums host Kamloops Broncos 1 in Atom Division action at 10 a.m., and the Vernon Magnums entertain the Kelowna Okanagan Sun Green at 12 p.m. in Peewee play.
The Vernon Junior Bantam Magnums begin the season on the road in Salmon Arm at 2 p.m. The junior bantams play their home opener Sunday, Sept. 19, at 2 p.m. at GVA against the Kamloops Broncos A squad.