Langley running back Ryan Goeson (1) will face the Bateman defence Friday at McLeod Stadium. (Photo courtesy Langley Secondary athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Football

A coin-flip showdown for No. 1 under Friday Night Lights: AA’s showcase game features top-ranked, host Langley T-Birds against Abby’s No. 2 Bateman T-Wolves!

LANGLEY — The only coin-flip you’re going to see Friday at McLeod Stadium (7 p.m.) is the one at the 50-yard line to determine who will receive the football to start B.C.’s first No. 1 vs. No. 2 high school football match-up since 2019.

Yet trying to predict a winner between the top-ranked and host Langley Thunderbirds (3-0) and Abbotsford’s No. 2-ranked Robert Bateman Timberwolves (5-1) in what is shaping up as an epic Coastal Conference clash might best be accomplished by calling ‘Heads or tails’.

“Honestly, if both teams come in at full strength and play error free…it’s anybody’s game,” Langley head coach Mark Wyse said.

Added Bateman head coach David Mills: “Coaches and players are all so excited for this. Friday night in Langley. No. 1 vs. No. 2 Game of the week.

“These are the games that you think about and train for in the offseason. This is what you do it for. This is going to be a lot of fun. A very good game. We’ll find out where we are for real after this one.”

Yet not even two months ago, when the Varsity Letters’ pre-season Big 5 coaches poll attempted to put some semblance of order on the 2021 season ahead at AA, neither of Friday’s combatants was ranked.

Bateman was listed as an honourable mention team, while Langley did not receive a single polling point from any of the province’s coaches.

Their exclusion has proven to be a barometre of how quickly things can change over the course of a cancelled season.

Robert Bateman running back Micah Barker puts his ball-carrying skill on the line Friday against No. 1 Langley at McLeod Stadium. (Photo by Rick MacDonald property of Robert Bateman athletics 2021. All Rights Reserved)

Bateman quarterback Nolan Watrin comes into the game leading the tier in overall passing yards with 868 (an average of 144 per game). Langley pivot Jordan Williams has played half as many games as Watrin and is averaging 110 yards per contest through the air.

Micah Barker of Bateman leads the tier in rushing with 384 yards, while Langley’s  Ryan Goeson (110 ypg) and Aaron Linden (72 ypg) have been an explosive combo.

“It’s going to be classic old-format East Conference rivalry game,” added Wyse. “Coach Mills has been doing a great job for more than a decade over there. He always recruits great coaching talent and his staff gets the most out of their players. They’re always athletic, but this year they have size and a very talented quarterback in Nolan Watrin.”

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