In the aftermath of another epic rushing performance by Maleek Irons, W.J. Mouat coach Denis Kelly put forth a notion that should have the Hawks’ future opponents shaking in their cleats.
“He’s bigger and stronger now,” Kelly said of Irons.
“He packs a little harder punch this time around, but he’s got all the elusiveness he had last year.”
Considering Irons, the Hawks’ running back, set B.C. high school football records in 2012 for rush yardage in a season (3,304) and in a single game (491 vs. Mount Douglas on Oct. 13), the theory that he’s a significantly better player now is almost hard to wrap your mind around.
But if Mouat’s home opener vs. the Robert Bateman Timberwolves last Friday night was any indication, Kelly might be spot on.
Irons racked up 406 yards on the ground along with six TDs on 22 carries in his team’s 52-10 win, and might have challenged his own single-game yardage record if Kelly hadn’t taken him out in the third quarter with the Hawks holding a big lead.
Kelly was also thrilled with the performance of his offensive line in opening holes for Irons to run through. Defensively, Mouat got interceptions from Irons, Jake Firlotte and Slater McRae, while Clovis Lumeka and Manpreet Chhina were the top tacklers with eight and six, respectively.
The T-Wolves’ points came on a touchdown run by their star running back, Ben Cummings, and a field goal by Gavin Rowell.
For Bateman, now in its fourth year as a AA program, playing a AAA powerhouse in No. 4-ranked Mouat in their first exhibition game was “a good learning experience,” according to head coach Alfred Brathwaite.
“It was an eye-opener for the kids,” he said. “We found out what we need to work on, and it gives us an opportunity to better our team.”
TOP-RANKED SUN DEVILS RALLY PAST HURRICANES
The Rick Hansen Hurricanes also took on a huge challenge in their home opener, facing the defending AA champion South Delta Sun Devils on Saturday.
Hansen, ranked No. 4 in AA, didn’t look out of place – they built a 20-16 lead at halftime. But the Sun Devils came roaring back, scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half to win 36-20.
“It was a game we had our opportunities to win – we just had too many mistakes,” said Hurricanes coach Paul Gill, alluding to a series of back-breaking penalties and dropped passes.
“It was a measuring stick, and we’re right there with them. We make another catch or two, and it changes the momentum of the game . . . All of those are preseason things that we can clean up.”
Hansen QB Alex Ho threw for 269 yards, including a 35-yard TD pass to Zach Toews, and both players also ran for one-yard majors. Brad Atkinson also had a big game, hauling in four catches for 108 yards along with two interceptions on defence.
TURNOVERS PLAGUE PANTHERS
You can’t turn the ball over 10 times and expect to win football games, as the Abbotsford Senior Panthers discovered on Friday in their home opener vs. the Holy Cross Crusaders.
The Panthers coughed up the ball early and often, repeatedly handing the Crusaders prime field position to grease the skids for a blowout.
“The guys came out … with a lot of nerves, and they made some uncharacteristic mistakes,” said Panthers coach Jay Fujimura, who was pleased with the effort put forth by linebacker/receiver Thomas Sharpe and safety/receiver Brandon Goheen. “But it wasn’t indicative of how talented our team is. I know our guys will bounce back.”
The Holy Cross game marked the debut of Abby Senior’s new on-campus artificial turf facility, Panther Field. They host their homecoming game this Friday vs. Howe Sound (4 p.m. kickoff).
• In other action this week, Mouat hosts the AA No. 2-ranked Mission Roadrunners (Friday, 7:30 p.m.), while Hansen hits the road to face the Hugh Boyd Trojans in Richmond (Friday, 12 p.m.).
Bateman is off this week – their next game is Sept. 20 at home vs. Hansen (12 p.m.).