The Robert Bateman Timberwolves were shut out to end their season in 2015.
This year they want to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
The T-Wolves made the nearly 300-kilometre trek to Kamloops to battle the Prince George Secondary School Polars in round one of the BC high school football AA senior varsity playoffs in 2015 last November.
What resulted was a fruitless 19-0 loss, which saw their production sputter and fail to get on the board.
Bateman plans to open 2016 with a re-energized offence and a lot of familiar faces to build on last year’s playoff appearance.
“We should be able to run the ball this year,” said Bateman head coach David Mills, during a practice session earlier this month. “Last year we struggled to move the ball at times so we should be greatly improved in that area.”
Bateman had a solid regular season last year, finishing with a record of two wins and three losses, rolling off two straight wins at the end of the season to qualify for the postseason. Mills said that experience last season should help out his team, as they sport a number of Grade 12 students who will expect to carry much of the load on both sides of the ball.
Mills pointed to quarterback Aiden McDonald, running back Keegan Vicklund, running back/linebacker Dawson Davis, linesman Greg Poirier and running back/defensive back Anthony Bodger as players who have the opportunity to build on last year’s experience.
“We have some really good Grade 12s,” he said. “Bodger has a ton of speed and Poirier is just one of the big boys we have on the offensive line. He’s six-foot-six, and was a provincial champion in shot put in June.”
Mills said the team should be strong defensively again this year. Bateman allowed just 88 points in five regular-season games in 2015, and he expects the team to have the ability to shut down the opposition when need be.
“We’ll be good up front defensively,” he said. “Our linebackers and defensive line are really good, and we have some speed and ability in the back end. We should be good back there this year.”
This year also marks the biggest number of players at Mills’ disposal. Bateman has a total of 34 players suiting up this year, the most in the history of the program.
Mills said returning to the postseason is on their list of goals for 2016.
“We want to have a plus .500 record and want to make the playoffs,” he said. “Once we get to the playoffs it’s one week at a time and anything can happen. Guys seem to be buying in and they’re all here and working hard. I think we have the foundation for what could be a really good year for us.”
He said he hopes everyone who felt the disappointment last year can remember that sinking feeling.
“I think they know not to assume anything,” he said. “We need to focus on each game by itself and can’t look ahead.”
Bateman opened their exhibition run with a 27-7 loss to Vernon, and continued the preseason against Mission on Friday, posting a 17-0 win. They also hit the preseason gridiron with games on Sept. 24 against Earl Marriott, and on Oct. 1 against Argyle.
The Timberwolves open the regular season on Oct. 7 in Chilliwack when they take on G.W. Graham.
Read next week’s print edition of the Abbotsford News for an in-depth look at the Abbotsford Senior Panthers.