Sooke Thunderbirds player Gavin Christiansen plows through several Nanaimo Bombers during an atoms football game at EMCS on Sunday. (Octavian Lacatusu/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke Thunderbirds rock football field

Atoms rattle Nanaimo with a 42-6 victory last weekend

The Sooke football season is off to a solid start.

Last weekend, the Sooke Thunderbirds, formerly known as the Sooke Seahawks, battled twice against Nanaimo’s Bombers in both Atom and Peewee divisions. In Atom, Sooke won a crushing 42-6 victory, while peewees lost a hard-fought 30-20 battle.

Overall though, spirits were high and the game was intense, said Atom Thunderbirds coach Corey Perry, who was proud of his team’s performance on Sunday.

“They’re a good group of kids, all determined. They’re all competitive and have a winning attitude. They come to practice, they pay attention to all the drills, they execute those drills and they leave it on the football field,” he said. “It’s that discipline and structure that matters.”

Victory’s great, but it’s important to keep one’s head in the game regardless, and always going into a game thinking it’s a good team, Perry added, noting this is the mantra the Thunderbirds are learning very quickly.

“You never underestimate your opponent, it’s game over from the beginning if you do that. You just stick to your regular game plan, regular practices, get the kids prepped and amped up.”

Three team captains were assigned for this season: a defensive, offensive and a team captain, something Perry refers to as the “core” of the team. In a sense, the players learn to teach themselves and each other.

“You get them to get the other kids going, because as a coach or an adult, you can only do so much, but when they see it from their comrades, it’s different,” said Perry, whose son, Austin, is the captain of the team. “There’s more to the role of captain- it’s leadership, teaching the kids how to play football, helping your partner up off the ground, or helping another kid off the ground after a tackle, it’s sportsmanship. It’s not just about being the best kid on the team, it’s about helping each other.”

It’s not just on the football field, either, it’s taking it off the field and using the same attitude at school and at home, which is why part of Sooke’s football program is trying to build a good community of young athletes.

This mantra showed its face on Ladysmith’s playing field versus Comox two weekends ago, bringing home the victory with a staggering 33-0.

Still, he expects that to be a lot tougher next time around.

“I expect them to be a different team.”

As for this weekend’s game against the Saanich Wolverines, Perry expects a tough opponent.

“They have good coaching staff, good athletes, a good catchment, 20-30 kids on their roster. I’m very excited.”