Two years after the Terry Fox Ravens and Centennial Centaurs each reached the BC high school football semifinals, each team is rebuilding. Here's how the coaches size up their chances for this season.
Terry Fox Ravens
Preseason games are for learning.
After one win and three losses in the exhibition schedule before games start counting in the BC Secondary Schools Football Association standings beginning Friday (Sept. 29), Terry Fox Ravens head coach Tom Kudaba said he's learned a lot about his rebuilding squad.
With several seniors graduated out of last year's team that won five of six regular season games but then succumbed quickly in the playoffs, Kudaba figures to be giving additional responsibility to some of his younger players this season.
So far, the results have been mixed, he said.
A 41-0 win over Earl Marriott in the first pre-season game showed Kudaba his side has some skill. But a 42-6 loss to Vancouver College the following week demonstrated the Ravens' need to get physical and play more fearlessly.
Add in a couple of season-ending injuries to two of his seniors, Kudaba said, and there's cause for concern.
"We had those injuries and were forced to play players that weren’t ready for the challenge," he said.
Attaining that readiness will be the coach’s challenge prior to Raven's first regular season game, Sept. 29, against Rutland (Kelowna).
To get there, Kudaba said he'll be leaning on quarterback Zach Golab, senior receiver and defensive back Denzel Arinaza as well as all-around junior lineman Charles Scholz. He's also looking for big things from the Tennent twins, Andrew and Chris, who are both in Grade 11 and play the receiver and defensive back positions.
Kudaba said while attracting players to the school’s football team is a perennial problem, the sudden and unexpected cancellation last spring of Simon Fraser University's football program has exacerbated the challenge.
"We are now limiting the options for high school graduating players," he said.
"We all love watching sports on TV and we need to remember how these athletes got to these top positions in the first place."
Terry Fox will be playing its home games at the Centennial turf field in Coquitlam this season because of renovation work being done at the team's usual field, Percy Perry Stadium in Town Centre Park.
Terry Fox regular season schedule
- Sept. 29, 7 p.m. = Rutland @ Terry Fox
- Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. = Terry Fox @ New Westminster
- Oct. 13, 4 p.m. = Seaquam @ Terry Fox
- Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. = Terry Fox @ St. Thomas More
- Oct. 28, 1:30 p.m. = Terry Fox @ South Delta
- Nov. 3, 7 p.m. = Centennial @ Terry Fox
After a breakthrough season in 2021 for the varsity football program at Centennial Secondary that got the team to the Subway Bowl semifinals, the Centaurs faltered last season to an 0-6 record.
But rather than fearing a backslide to the dismal times prior to the pandemic cancellation of the 2020 season when Centennial was mired in a run of three consecutive winless campaigns, head coach Dino Geremia is optimistic good things lie ahead for his charges.
"No one takes us lightly anymore," he said.
"We believe we made some great progress in our overall program strength, more players playing and coming out, greater consistency with our schemes and philosophy and an overall positive feel around Centaur football."
Already, there have been positive signs of a turnaround. Centennial opened the exhibition schedule with a 21-14 win over Mt. Boucherie and the team hung tough in a 46-36 loss to Holy Cross, a gritty AA team.
The up-and-down is not unexpected from a team that will have several sophomores in key positions.
Those young players will be looking to senior quarterback and team captain Rohan Aulakh to show them the way, Geremia said.
"He has committed to everything we do. He is smart and is more comfortable with our offence every practice."
Protecting Aulakh, and also giving chase to opposing quarterbacks, will be a trio of senior linemen, Francesco DiTomaso and twin brothers Fabian and Fabrizio Rios Gomez. The siblings are apt replacements for the Centaurs’ previous pair of hulksters, William and Walter Zheng, who graduated.
Geremia said regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard, Centennial’s success this season will be measured by the character and fight of the team’s players.
"If we have more players getting involved in the Centaur community, committing themselves on and off the field, working hard and building positive relationships, more good things will happen," he said.
"It is not a secret."
Centennial regular season schedule
- Sept. 29, 4:30 p.m. = Centennial @ Belmont
- Oct. 6, 7 p.m. = Centennial @ Seaquam
- Oct. 13, 7 p.m. = St. Thomas More @ Centennial
- Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. = South Delta @ Centennial
- Oct. 27, 7 p.m. = New Westminster @ Centennial
- Nov. 3, 7 p.m. = Centennial @ Terry Fox