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Photos: There’s a new face on the soccer sideline for Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Rapids

Dave Jones coached the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils senior boys team for 11 years

Change in high school sports is a constant. Young student-athletes develop and then, in a couple of years, they graduate, replaced by the next cohort.

But for the Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils senior boys soccer team, the one constant has been the presence of Dave Jones on the sidelines for the past 11 years.

Jones is now the vice principal at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam. And he’s taken charge of the Rapids.

“It’s a huge change,” said Jones,  who previously coached volleyball at the school way back in 2000–03. “Riverside is a great school with strong sports programs.”

Just how strong was evidenced by the 45 boys who reported to try out for the senior soccer team.

Jones said winnowing down all the new faces to a side of 18 was a challenge, but over the course of two weeks of tryouts and an exhibition match, he was able to forge a connection with his new charges.

“For the students and myself, a game or practice after school can be the highlight of our school day,” Jones said. “As a vice principal, it really allows me to connect with students that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.”

The transition from the Blue Devils to the Rapids has been eased by the presence of seven or eight players from last year’s team that reached the AAA Coastal championship semifinals, among them senior defenders Mateen Sayami and Edoardo De Fillippis, as well as forward Joseph D’agostini. Grade 11 goalkeeper Grayson Sherle is also showing excellent leadership qualities, Jones said.

“They are skilled and have a good soccer IQ.”

Those traits will definitely fuel the school pride Jones has already felt in his new environs, no matter the number of wins or losses they register on the scoreboard. It’s what keeps him going as well.

“Building a team from scratch, watching them come together, play great soccer and give 100 percent each and every game is something that we strive for,” he said. “If we can do that, I will be very happy.”

Meanwhile, at Jones’ old stomping grounds up Mariner Way, his legacy carries on. His son, Spencer, is now one of the Blue Devils’ coaches, along with Fahim Karmali.

Both played for Jones, and Karmali said they’ve got big boots to fill.

“No one can replace Dave and the impact he has had on both the school and the soccer program,” he said. “We understand what comes with winning for Charles Best.”

Karmali said Dave Jones instilled in the Blue Devils traits of accountability, selflessness and the ability for players to embrace the pressures that come with success and respond to adversity.

That’s a “great foundation to build off,” Karmali said, adding he and Spencer Jones “just want to create a positive environment for the boys to express themselves.”

Almost half of last year’s team that finished atop Fraser North is back, led by senior midfielders Dylan Lee and Cole Toupin.

Karmali said, as always, the Blue Devils will be “a tough team to play against” in a tough league where no opponent can be taken for granted.

“Ultimately, we want the boys to have a positive school soccer experience, develop memories and hopefully win along the way.”

Heritage Woods

The Kodiaks shocked top-ranked Panorama Ridge Thunder 2-1 in their opening match at last year’s AAA Coastal championship tournament in Burnaby, but they weren’t able to ride that momentum any further, dropping subsequent matches to Sentinel and Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs.

But with 15 players from that side back for this season, Heritage Woods’ coach Mike Viveiros is confident  they’re keen to take their game to the next level despite the graduation of leading scorer Jordan Low.

Leading the way will be Jack Mallow’s relentless work ethic and Kai Rawnsley’s speed and athleticism that Viveiros believes will test opponents’ defence, while newcomers Gavin Hayes and Holden Sullivan hold the fort on the back end.

“A successful season will be a provincial berth and then having success at provincials,” Viveiros said.

Centennial

The Centaurs reached the provincial tournament for the first time in 10 years last season. Coach Kevin Comeau said the team’s sixth place finish should be a springboard to continued success this season.

Seniors Nathan Hagiwara, Roman Bandiera and Seyi Balonun will be joined by several up-and-coming Grade 11s who won the 2021 Fraser North championship as juniors.

Oh yeah, added Comeau, for the first time, the team will also be able to play in front of its own fans at the new turf field right next to the school.

“It will be great to be able to have our home fans come out after school and cheer on our boys,” he said.

Terry Fox

Coming off a season of struggle, Ravens’ coach John Murphy said this year’s side has the work ethic and skill to turn some heads. But that will take a full-on commitment from seniors like Owen Watson, Austin Iapalucci, Adam Szymanski and Ethan Storey.

They’ll be showing the way for talented juniors, striker Chris Ferreira and midfielder Jhonatan Vente as well as some newcomers that should comprise a solid back line with some explosive potential up front.

“It seems like this group is responsible and has some talent,” Murphy said. “If we can get everyone committed to achieving the same collective goals, we could be a decent team.”

Pinetree

Hope springs eternal for the young and inexperienced Timberwolves.

Coach Steve Jack said his charges will be eager to challenge their opponents and show they belong, but he’s under no illusion Pinetree will be contending for a provincial championship.

Driving the offence will be senior forward Sam Kim and Grade 10m midfielder Liam Commerford, while another sophomore, Nicholas Lam, is expected to provide a calming presence at the back end.

Gleneagle

After a season in AA to help rebuild the program, and a shortage of players last season, Talons’ coach Robert Ramogida said his charges are ready to compete.

“We have a wealth of depth and a big group of highly committed players,” he said. “We all feel we can potentially do something special.”

Leading Gleneagle will be senior goalkeeper Thomas Sullivan, who’s been minding the net for the Talons since he was in Grade 9.

“He has really matured over the last few years and is a great leader out of the back,” Ramogida said.

Providing support will be Grade 12 centre back Colby Ng, whom Ramogida called the side’s “anchor,” while seniors Dominic Runghen and Taiyo Nagar will drive the offence with help from junior Guido Di Michino.

“He really understands the game of soccer,” Ramogida said of the international student from Italy. “He is skilled, fast and passionate.”

Port Moody

Did not respond by deadline.

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