It will be a tough, but eventually rewarding, step for the Mission Secondary School Roadrunners football program.
The Roadrunners are making the jump from AA to AAA for 2016, and head coach Danny Jakobs said the learning curve could be fairly steep for his team.
“We’re young and really heavy on Grade 11’s this year,” he said, following the Roadrunners 34-12 loss to the Abbotsford Panthers in Abbotsford on Friday. “We’re focused on this program making the move to AAA, but it could be a tough couple of years. It’ll be a transition for us as a program and our players.”
Mission is coming off a strong junior varsity AA season that saw them finish with six wins and one loss in regular-season play. They put together a memorable playoff run, which saw them win three playoff games en route to a berth in the AA final.
The junior varsity Roadrunners ultimately came up short in the AA final in BC Place to North Vancouver’s Windsor Dukes last December.
The senior varsity program finished with a record of three wins and two losses in 2015, and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The move to senior varsity AAA means Mission will participate in the group’s eastern division, competing against Coquitlam’s Centennial, the Kelowna Owls, Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir, West Kelowna’s Mt. Boucherie, Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary and Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat.
“We want to get our Grade 11 and 10 students ready for next year and make sure they are prepared for AAA,” Jakobs said. “It could be tough this year and we’re kind of treading water a little bit, but that’s what you have to deal with when you move up the ranks.”
Despite the challenges facing the team this year, Jakobs said he has faith that his team will come to play.
“We have some great kids and some hard workers on this team,” he said. “We will keep pushing, but this is a year that everyone gets once in awhile. Everyone has ups and downs. We’ve had some great years but this year might be more of a retooling year.”
Jakobs pointed to fullback/linebacker James Limoges, linebacker/running back Levi Murchison and defensive tackle Cheyne Brown as key players for 2016.
“We’re balanced,” he said. “We don’t have that one go-to guy but we have a lot of athletes that can make plays. We’re going to try and spread the ball around and make teams guess who might be getting the ball.”
The Roadrunners opened the exhibition schedule against Washington State’s Lindbergh Eagles, losing 49-6 on Sept. 1. They also fell 34-12 to the Panthers in Abbotsford on Sept. 9.
Murchison led the way against the Panthers with eight tackles and added a touchdown off a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter. Limoges added 148 all purpose yards, and scored Mission’s other touchdown.
The Roadrunners next take on Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Secondary today (Friday) at 3 p.m. They open the regular season on Sept. 23, when they travel to West Kelowna and battle Mt. Boucherie.