And it begins.
The Mission Secondary School Roadrunners varsity football team has been training for over a month, and the term championship year is being bandied about already.
Last year’s junior varsity squad went undefeated in the regular season, and took the provincial title with a 33-8 rout over the John Barsby Bulldogs in the AA finals last December.
Many of this same group now comprise the varsity squad, lending some epic hype months before the season began that this will be the varsity team’s year to win it all.
Last season, the senior team was ranked second in the province, but lost to Nanaimo in the semi-finals.
A good early season test for the varsity players is this Saturday at MSS, where the Roadrunners face down Seaquam.
“They’re good,” said head coach Kevin Watrin about the Sept. 10 match-up, which starts at 1 p.m. “Seaquam always puts in a solid performance. They don’t ever seem to have a down year.”
But Watrin, the team, and the rest of the coaching staff are carrying big expectations of themselves this year, especially after last Friday’s exhibition game in which the Roadrunners lost to Napavine High School.
“[Napavine] showed us where we need to improve,” said Watrin. “We were disappointed with how the kids played and how [the coaching staff] prepared them.”
The Grade 11s took the loss the hardest, he noted, given that for this group of players who have been together since Grade 8, the defeat was only the fourth they’ve suffered in three years.
Regardless, Watrin said he’s “never been more excited for a season.”