Two Whalers gain gridiron experience
The Canada Cup was a big learning curve, and that bodes well for the blue and white.
From the bumped-but-not-forgotten files, an update on Ballenas Secondary School standouts Dustin Rodriguez and Terrek Bryant.
The pair made school history back in June by becoming the first local players ever selected to Team BC and to compete in the Football Canada Cup, an annual showcase for the best Under 18 players in the country.
The 2011 Football Canada Cup was played out at the University of Lethbridge June 9 to 16 and marked the greatest number of provincial entries in FCC’s 17-year history with two teams from Ontario, and one team each from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Québec and Nova Scotia.
Established in 1884, Football Canada is the national governing body of amateur football in Canada
Team BC opened with an 18-0 win over Manitoba. According to the tournament web site it was “a hard fought game that proved to be defensive battle in the first half, eventually British Columbia prevailed with a better offensive performance in the second half. With a good mix of rushing and passing, BC was able to score a field goal followed by two touchdowns to seal the game.”
Top rushing performances came from Mason Swift, Terrell Davis and Matt Carney of B.C.
The final game on day two was a battle as the West Coast gang lost game two 31-15 to Quebec.
The game was tied 7-7 midway through the opening quarter when Quebec “began to open up their offence,” and went on to reel off 24 unanswered points over the next two quarters.
The locals were in the lineup and helped Team BC beat Ontario 14-1 in the bronze medal game.
This is the second straight year B.C. has finished third in the country — Team BC won a bronze medal last year after a 10 year absence from the tournament.
“It was fun, it was the best experience of my life,” said Dustin, adding that being part of the first B.C. team to medal at the Canada Cup, “was awesome ... everyone on the team was stoked.”
Rodriguez had a couple quality touches, one of them a 30-yard reception, and he also booted a 30 yard field goal against Manitoba, and Terrek rotated in on the offensive line at both left and right tackle.
“All the players were really good,” and said, pointing out the experience was an eye opener in terms of the talent level out there.
Beyond becoming a better football player, the other big thing he took away from the experience he said, “was making a bunch of new friends.”
Conditions in Lethbridge were ‘really hot’ with slight winds.
The venue, he said “was really nice, but it was like a 20 minute walk to get to our field, every game, and it sucked.”
Asked his take on competing on the national stage and Terrek confirmed, “it was a great experience. It taught me a lot. I learned tons from the other players.”
Both players are going into their senior year, and both say they’re looking to run with what they learned playing for Team BC in their final campaign with the Ballenas Secondary School Whalers.
Whalers’ co-head coach Jeremy Conn said he and his counterpart Sean Hines “have noticed Dustin seems more focused, more intense (since returning home). We’re hopping it’s going to help them take their game to another level, not just in performance but in leadership.”
Rodriguez was hampered with a bone spur last year and spent most of last season in an air cast.
Contacted for his take on our two local players just prior to the tournament, Team BC assitant coach Dino Geremia said, “Dustin is a talented receiver with good speed and a knack to get open. He also will play a huge role for us on special teams, kicking and returning; ultimately his versatility helped him make the team and will lead to the team’s success.
“Terrek Bryant is a good-sized O lineman that will be a part of a strong group. He has range and a little nasty which will be great assets for the team.”
The Whalers (both seniors and juniors) start no-gear practices Mon., Aug. 15.
Full-gear workouts get underway on Aug. 22.
The seniors’ first pre-season game is in Nanaimo Sept. 9 in a 3:30 p.m. kick-off against the NAnaimo District Secondary School Islanders.
The junior Whalers host the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers from Cloverdale the following day (1 p.m. kickoff).
“They’re a Triple-A team, so it’s a big challenge for us,” said coach Conn.