NEW WESTMINSTER — If the New Westminster Hyacks have shown anything this season, it’s that they have the depth, the belief and all of the pieces to play football their way.
That said, the No. 1 Hyacks are not over-thinking anything, especially if it means getting into a game of chess with their opponents in Saturday’s Subway Bowl championship semifinal at B.C. Place Stadium.
“Don’t expect us to be putting in a whack of new plays,” Hyacks’ head coach Farhan Lalji said Friday morning, reacting to the inevitable questions this week as New Westminster prepared to face the same South Delta Sun Devils’ team it vanquished 63-16 on the final day of the Wester Conference regular season campaign two weeks ago. “That is not going to happen. It’s not how we’re wired.”
That said, Lalji knows all too well the conviction with which the Sun Devils have been preparing for a rematch with New Westminster following the lopsided loss, and on that note, South Delta head coach Ray Moon pulled no punches when he spoke with the Delta Optimist’s Ian Jacques earlier this week.
“We will tear every single frame of New West’s entire year apart and come out with a better game plan and come out on fire,” Moon said. “I know the kids want it and want it bad. That’s all the kids have been talking about the past three weeks.”
You don’t need to go frame-by-frame, however, to know that the Hyacks have been executing their blocking assignments at a pretty high level of late, and that has created a centrifugal momentum within its offensive back from for everyone from running backs Sammy Sidhu, Lucas Sabau, Broxx Comia and Michael Kinglsey, to quarterback Kinsale Philip, and receiver Sebastien Reid.
“A player like Sammy has been great but you don’t do things completely on your own,” acknowledged Lalji. “Our run plays have been well blocked, and our (offensive line) loves blocking for these guys. Everyone has had a piece in this and I think that our kids believe that we’re far from being any kind of a one-man team.”
That said, Sidhu’s past two games are as good an eight-quarter stretch as any running back in the history of the run-based Hyacks’ proram. In meaningful games against two of the province’s elite programs in Mt. Douglas and South Delta, Sidhu has carried 25 times for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
If anything, the performance has taken Lalji back two seasons to the 2015 campaign when the Hyacks JV won the B.C. Triple A crown.
“He really got on a roll in the big games that year and I think over the four-game stretch (to end the season) he had almost 1,000 yards (rushing). So I guess if you’re asking who is a comparable, Sammy is his own comparable.”
And while the Hyacks present a ton of weapons for the Sun Devils to deal with, it’s vice-versa as well, as far as Lalji is concerned.
When asked about South Delta running back Andrew Kraft, as a tough a customer as there is, he responded: “He was possessed in their last game against Lord Tweedsmuir. He plays so hard, he’s so competitive and he does so many things for them.”
And the added luxury enjoyed by South Delta of having Grade 10 quarterback prodigy Ben McDonald able to not only take secondary snaps behind senior slinger Michael Calvert, but cause havoc by lining up in a myriad of different ways?
“Ben really opens things up,” said Lalji. “He reminds me of Calvert two years ago in terms of how dynamic he was. You can see that with Ben. He is so versatile and I shudder to think what he will be like in Grade 12 because he’s so good now He’s as dynamic a player as they have.”
Chew on those massive rushing number put up by Sidhu the past two weeks, and also remember the stir caused by Calvert when he passed for 654 yard and seven touchdowns in a non-conference loss south of the border in September.
Then consider these two juggernauts coming together, ready to battle for a berth to the B.C. final.
Saturday, 5 p.m. Hmm, you might want to see this one up close and live.
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