VANCOUVER — What a difference a year can make.
From the ashes of last season’s 1-6 league record to a 5-0 start this season in the AAA Western Conference, the No. 3-ranked Vancouver College Fighting Irish (6-0, 5-0 West) can tell you with authority that while youth will always be served, patience remains a virtue.
As a core of talented Grade 11s learned at the hand of adversity last season, they have shown that teaching moments in 2017 were not wasted.
Today, as the countdown to a key conference clash in New Westminster against the defending Subway Bowl champion and No. 5-ranked Hyacks (4-2, 3-1 West) hits two sleeps and counting, Varsity Letters runs a little Q-&-A drill with Irish head coach Todd Bernett.
Varsity Letters: Is there a big, over-riding theme to your team’s success this season?
Todd Bernett: This team is off to a good start because they are truly coachable and they are talented. We are not doing much different as coaches. The players just respond to our themes really well, they treat one another the right way, and we have some talent.
VL: Your two-man running back tandem of Daesaun Johnson (67 carries, 681 yards, 10 TDs) and Basil Schincariol (79 carries, 574 yards, 5 TDs) has been very effective this season over the first six games. Can you talk about what each brings to your attack?
TB: We actually have a three-headed running back situation, but Aiden Perry (27 carries, 299 yards, 3 TDs) has been a little beat up so we limited his reps the last game-and-a-half. Basil, Daesaun and Aiden all share good vision and work ethic. They are giving their best when it comes to paying attention to detail and being precise with their assignments. Basil is great at running behind his pads but he has a wiggle to him also. Daesaun has a blend of quickness and power. Aiden is good in trash or in open space, very quick and strong.
VL: Can you take us through the three levels of your team’s defence, maybe letting us know about a player who has been a factor along the line, within the linebacking core and in your secondary?
TB: Robert Mendez (defensive tackle) is a handful to deal with up front. He has a great motor and plays with violence. Adan Simpson (linebacker) is another returning starter who will be valuable in preventing big plays by New Westminster and their multi-dimensional scheme. Jason Soriano (Grade 11 free safety) has been playing the run and the pass well, and can matchup well on the opposition’s best wide receiver.
VL: Facing New Westminster at their place won’t be easy, even though they appear to be pretty banged up. What challenges do they pose both offensively and defensively?
TB: New West does many things well offensively. They have the Wing-T as their base offence, but they run multiple sets and show other concepts that force you to feel like you are preparing for two schemes. Defensively they are pretty dynamic up front. You can see their D-line playing with force on film. They have kept some high-powered teams in check offensively and had low-scoring games with the best from our conference.
(Editor’s note — Vancouver College plays at New Westminster, Friday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Mercer Stadium. You can look for a full game report on that game and every other B.C. high school football game over the weekend at varsityletters.ca)
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