VICTORIA — The Gideone Kremler era may have ended at Mt. Douglas Secondary, but the good news for fans of Rams football, is that the Gideone Kremler model remains.
And for head coach Mark Townsend, reflecting on the program-wide stability that four-year starter Kremler brought from the quarterback position, including bookend Subway Bowl AAA B.C. titles in 2015 and ’18, there is something of a blueprint already in place as to how to bring along a young pivot and give a team its best chance for longterm success.
That’s one long preface on the way to saying that when the 2019 season kicks off Sept. 7 on its own school field in the provincial capital against defending Alberta Tier 1 champion St. Francis of Calgary, that Grade 10 pivot Hunter Swift will begin what could well be a three-year run filling some of the biggest shoes to ever come down the B.C. high school pike.
Mt. Douglas checks in today at No. 2 in our annual Varsity Letters’ B.C. AAA preseason coaches poll.
“At this point, our plan is to move forward with Hunter Swift,” Townsend said when asked who his team’s starter would be this coming season. “Hunter is a great talent. There is no doubt about his arm strength, but what’s impressed me is the poise and the confidence he has shown.
“But while the blueprint has been followed and we have had success there, we will not compare,” Townsend said quite logically of the inevitable but unfair mirroring that tends to happen when a successor is named to follow an all-time player such as the Simon Fraser-bound Kremler.
“We’ve talked about this with Hunter,” added Townsend. “Our quarterbacks do not have to carry the whole team on their shoulders. You make plays, have fun and compete the best you can.”
And of course Swift knows that change isn’t just happening at the pivot.
While the Rams didn’t graduate a massive class of seniors from last season’s B.C. title-winning team, the depth of impact will not be easy to replace.
Kremler and his brother Zairech, along with the likes of Sam Mosky, Sebastian Hansen, Dante Carbone, Eddy Shala, Ivan Xu, Aiden Bertuzzi, Aidan Wold and Chase Mark were all part of a 10-man group whose contributions were nothing if not difference making.
“When you look at it, 10 graduated but they were the core of the team and they represented some immense talent from last year,” said Townsend. “So even though we have a lot of returning 12s, we have a complete make-over in terms of our offensive personnel.”
And when Townsend says he has a lot of returning players he is not kidding, especially as it pertains to the pass-catching core.
No fewer than 14 names on last season’s roster eligible to return this season were listed as receivers.
It’s a group led by the team’s most experienced skill position player, rising senior Joe Lucas.
“Just like the impact his older brother Josh had, Joe is going to help lead the way on both sides of the ball,” reports Townsend who will also watch Lucas star in the secondary. “He is talented, he’s speedy and he will lead our receiving core.”
The big surprise may well be 6-foot-3, 195-pound Glen Rose, whose speed and smarts could give Swift a nice jump-ball target, and the defence a potential defensive end of note.
While there are names aplenty in there pass-catching group, rising Grade 11s Linden Williams and Branden Turnbull are noted as players to watch.
Cole Bunting, looked upon as a dynamic part of the linebacking group, will also get a look at running back along with a veteran trio led by Peter Primeau and including Oshan Thomas and Jordan Clark.
Ayden McNay and Matt Ounsted at the guard spots, Jackson McEwan and the athletic Roman Dujela at the tackles, and Caleb Carrier at centre comprise an offensive line with only the rising Grade 11 McEwan a non-senior.
Dujela will likely get a chance to rush the passer as a defensive end along with Rose, while the likes of fellow rising Grade 12s Logan Warde and Enrique Del Alcazar figure to populate the interior tackle spots on defence.
Primeau will loom large among the linebacking group which will also be senior laden with Bunting, Kai Harris and Thomas.
Lucas, Williams and Turnbull and big Jackson Reid, the latter a 6-foot-3 rising Grade 11 who kicks and punts, could blend into a versatile and hard-hitting back end.
“We’ve all talked about the excitement of going into this new season,” said Townsend. “There are a lot of challenges ahead so we’ll roll up our sleeves and get ready for a tough Western Conference. There’s no gimme games. Any team can beat any team. So you can’t focus on a title. You just compete to the best of your ability week to week and if you do that, you might win some games along the way.”
MT. DOUGLAS RAMS
Sept. 7 vs. Calgary-St. Francis (2 p.m.)
Sept. 13 at Nanaimo District (6 p.m.)
Sept. 20 vs. New Westminster (2 p.m.)*
Sept. 28 at Vancouver College (1:30 p.m.)*
Oct. 4 vs. Notre Dame (2 p.m.)*
Oct. 11 at Belmont (TBA)*
Oct. 18 vs. Carson Graham (2 p.m.)*
Oct. 26 at South Delta (1:30 p.m.)*
Nov. 1 vs. Handsworth (2 p.m.)*
(*-indicates Western Conference league game, not all home date venues confirmed)
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