Three young Sooke footballers have helped the Victoria Renegades junior bantam team to an undefeated — albeit shortened — regular season that came to a close with a loss two weekends ago at the provincial championship semifinals in Maple Ridge.
Andy Abell, Bailey McMillan and Connor Ward, in their first year of junior bantam, played in the game where they lost 30-10 to the Meadow Ridge Knights.
“The weather was just horrible, pouring and pouring rain,” said Renegades’ head coach Karn Dodd.
“Both teams were fumbling the ball all over the place. They scored off our turnovers, (but) we didn’t score off theirs.”
Dodd said the Renegades’ main downfall was a lack of game experience. The previously four-team junior bantam league was whittled down to two — Victoria and Nanaimo. The other Victoria squad, the Spartans, didn’t field a team this year and the Cowichan Valley Bulldogs had to fold theirs due to injuries.
Normally, the Renegades would play an 11-game season. Only facing Nanaimo four times meant they missed out on seven crucial games. The coach believed that, biases aside, they had a lineup capable of going all the way.
“(We were) going in to play a team that played 10 teams to get where they are.”
The trio from Sooke put up with the commute because there is currently no local option for the 12 to 13-year-old age group for the sport. Once they get a little older, they can sign up for the Wolverines at Edward Milne.
“The first year guys all did a great job, they worked hard to improve and all have improved,” he said, adding Andy, Bailey and Conner should expect more successes next year as seniors.
“Sooke has done a great job getting kids out for football. The numbers are going up in Westshore and Sooke, and are going down in the city itself.”
Dodd was hopeful that next year will bring some new opponents in their division.
“There’s nothing definite, I know Comox and a couple other teams are thinking of joining the league and starting programs as well.”