By Ben Lypka, Abbotsford News
W.J. Mouat Hawks
There are big shoes to fill at W.J. Mouat Secondary, but new football head coach Travis Bell is up for the challenge.
Bell is taking over the reins of the football program this year after longtime coach Dennis Kelly moved on to a role with the SFU Clan football team this May.
Kelly started Mouat’s football program in 1987 and helped lead the Hawks to three provincial championships. Bell knows firsthand the type of coach Kelly is – he played under him for several years as a Hawk and graduated in 2005.
“It’s a huge challenge to take over for Dennis but we’re not reinventing the wheel,” he said. “I learned a lot from how he did things and we’re going to continue to do things that way. I was very fortunate to have learned from him.”
He’s no stranger to the football program at Mouat, as Kelly was heavily involved with the junior varsity team. He sees a lot of promise for the Hawks this year and in the coming years.
“I think we’ve got a solid group of Grade 12s and a large group of Grade 11s that are ready to go,” he said. “It’s a new staff and a new system, so it’s a bit of a learning year for us. We’re all trying to figure everything out and we’ve been getting better every game. I’m looking forward to seeing where we are at the end of it.”
Kelly said his key players include running back and linebacker Dion Pellerin, quarterback Noah Dietrich and wide receivers Elijah Falconer and Colton Barker.
He said making the AAA playoffs are a goal, but the team will take it one week at a time.
“I think we can surprise some people by the end of the year,” he said.
The Hawks were eliminated in the first round of the AAA playoffs last year and battled injuries all season. Kelly hopes to improve on last year’s showing.
Mouat posted a record of one win and one loss in preseason action and kick off AAA regular season competition on Friday when they travel to Burnaby to play St. Thomas More Collegiate. The team’s home opener is on Oct. 2 against Terry Fox. Regular home games for the Hawks occur on Friday’s at 7:30 p.m. at Mouat Secondary.
Rick Hansen Secondary
A former Hansen grad has returned to attempt to bring back some of the shine to the Hurricanes.
David Prins, a 2002 Hansen graduate, is now the man in charge of the football program, and said it’s been a lot of work but ultimately a lot of fun since he’s taken over.
“It’s a big undertaking, but the guys are so great and it feels so good to give a little back,” he said. “I want to try and bring back that old school Hansen spirit that I had when I was growing up here.”
Prins was a member of the first Hurricanes squad to ever play in AAA. Since that time, Hansen has moved to AA and many of the athletics programs at the school are significantly different.
“We’ve got some rebuilding to do,” he said. “I want to get the numbers back up at the school for athletics overall. We’re running more teams this year and we’re trying to bring back all of the sports.”
But football is the key sport on Prins’ mind, and he said the school is focusing all of its efforts on the varsity team.
“We’re bringing up about six or seven Grade 10s and have a strong crew of Grade 9s that want to play, but we just don’t have enough coaches to run two teams,” he said. “We can bring those Grade 9s to senior next year and want to hopefully get a few more coaches so we can run junior and senior next year.”
Prins said some of his key players for 2015 are running back Balraj Mangat, offensive lineman Ram Gill, tight end Navi Kaler and fullback/linebacker Rahul Joshi.
The Hurricanes were winless last year and Prins said he wants to improve and potentially make the playoffs.
“I’d like to make the playoffs but we’re in a fairly tough conference,” he said. “But that’s a good goal for us.”
Prins also said he’s extending an open invitation to Hansen alumni to give him a hand behind the bench. Those interested can contact him at David_Prins@sd34.bc.ca
Hansen hosts Eric Hamber on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. and then battles Moscrop at home on Oct. 2 at 3:45 p.m.
They open the season on Oct. 9 at 3:45 p.m. when they host Pitt Meadows.