The EMCS Wolverines football team have not forgotten about last season’s loss against Timberline that knocked them out of a spot in the playoffs.
In a hard-fought game that went into double-overtime, it left this year’s squad hungry to win, even if they are a little leaner.
“We lost 15 seniors,” said Matt Mortenson, head coach of the senior team.
“But the thing is that last year it was my juniors that I played up that carried the team, because they were the ones that were the really hard workers and that’s the core of these guys.”
Departing graduates aside, Sooke being a rural community traditionally struggles with depth. While bigger schools in the conference have a plethora of players to choose from, the Wolverines have to try and get the most out of their lineup with some positions having to play both offence and defence.
“We have really skilled players but they’re going to need breaks. A lot of my kids will have to play both ways and that’ll kill them,” said Mortenson.
The season doesn’t start until Oct. 1, and he said they can recruit up until the first game.
“It’s not about being really selective, it’s like you want to play football? Come out and play, you’re welcome.”
The team revolves around a few strong returning players, like quarterback Alex Wright. He said one of their strengths this season is familiarity — many of the guys on the team have been playing together for three to five years.
“The guys that graduated actually didn’t have as much as experience as these guys will. We have (players like) Morgan (D’Ganigan) playing here for much longer than any of them did, so he’s got a lot more experience.”
This year EMCS has a fully-stocked offensive line, and Wright said there’s a good set of receivers and running backs. Defence shouldn’t be a problem either, added the 17-year-old.
“They’re not going to get much on us.”
The first exhibition of the season was a junior/senior varsity double header against Belmont at Eagle Ridge on Friday. It was “unbelievably hot” on the turf said Mortenson, which was hard on the athletes pulling double duty.
In the senior game, the conference number-one ranked Belmont scored first with a two-point conversion. EMCS countered but failed to convert the kick return making the score 8-6 at half time. Being the first game he said there were many small errors made.
“We have a very, very green O(ffensive) line, the O line made a lot of mistakes in their blocking schemes.”
The problem is that it has worked well in practices, but in a game situation the players are improvising and that is where the play is breaking down, said Mortenson.
“If they stick to the schemes they’re meant to do we would have ran the ball so much better. That comes down to experience and discipline.”
The game ended 16-6 in what the coach called a “good test.” The next game is in Surrey on Saturday at Frank Hurt Secondary School, and the team will be home against Vancouver’s Eric Hamber Griffins the following Saturday.