NORTH DELTA — When it comes to high school football in the north end of Delta, they may have started out as the little brother to the North Delta Huskies.
Yet the Seaquam Seahawks have won a pair of Subway Bowl B.C. Double A titles over their history, including the most recent this past season under out-going head coach Jerry Mulliss.
This year, the Hawks have taken a step up to Triple A and with a No. 4 ranking, don’t appear to have skipped a beat.
Today, we check in with new Seaquam head coach Navin Chand, a 1990 North Delta Secondary graduate who has been a behind-scenes coaching force in his football community for a quarter of a century.
Varsity Letters: You have coached at North Delta, Sands and now Seaquam. That’s a North Delta triple of sorts. But you’ve also spent a huge part of your career with North Delta Community Football. What has it been like?
Navin Chand: Well, my experience also includes playing both high school and community football, and I always tell players that they can have the best of both worlds. But playing for a high school is different. Being a part of that school atmosphere, nothing beats that.
VL: Early in your coaching career you must have enjoyed some special moments with the Huskies? They were the only team to ever win back-to-back titles at different tiers (1994 AA, 1995 AAA).
NC: I started coaching in North Delta in 1992, and it was great to have a chance to work with guys like Walter Becker and Ron Uyeyama. And then for the balance of 1990s, North Delta was a Top 5 Triple A team, until they re-configured the schools (from junior secondaries to 8-12). I helped Ron with the program at Sands for a few years and then I got coaxed to come over to Seaquam.
VL: You’ve been at Seaquam for five seasons now, and this is now the fourth year of play for the Grade 8 program you launched in 2014. How important has that been?
NC: There’s hadn’t been a Grade 8 program at Seaquam for a number of years and we just wanted to make sure we had a sustainable program.
VL: Your current Seaquam team is 3-0, ranked No. 4 in Triple A, and week-in, week-out just continues to put up points in big-play fashion. How has the team built on last year’s incredible success under Mulliss?
NC: Winning generates confidence. Too be honest, there were people who were worried about how we would make the transition to Triple A. But we have a core group of kids (Jalen Philpot, Tyson Philpot, Josh Haydu, Gavin Murray, Dedaar Jhooty) who made Team B.C. this summer and participated in the Canada Cup. That just reinforced with them that they could match up with kids from any school. It really helped. But you also need depth, quality depth, and starting the Grade 8 program at this school has helped give us that as well.
VL: Cory Philpot, the former B.C. Lions’ star running back, is your offensive coordinator. As you are also coaching Seaquam’s JV team, it must be nice to have the senior offence in good hands?
NC: I let Cory pretty much run his plays and it has worked out very well. I still provide input on offence and defence. But in addition to coaching two teams, I have always done a lot of work behind the scenes. I break down a lot of film, and I do a lot of the paperwork as well.
VL: The Philpot brothers, Tyson and Jalen, are incredible players. How have you seen them grow over the years?
NC: While coaching in the community, I was always coaching the next age group down from them. So I saw Jalen and Tyson when they were like eight years old. But until you actually coach those guys, you don’t realize how good they are. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and they are the most athletic kids I have ever coached.
VL: Tell us something about the Philpots that many might not know?
NC: It’s that they are equally as good on the defensive side of the ball. When they hit you, they hit you hard. I don’t think they get the credit they should as far as how well they play on that side of the ball.
VL: I have said that Saturday’s game at your school against No. 2 New Westminster is likely the biggest football game to ever be played on Sunshine Hills soil. The only games I can think of that have been bigger have been Seaquam-North Delta basketball games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. How good are these Hyacks?
NC: I have said from Day 1 this season that they are the team to beat. They were JV champs two years ago, they have so much talent and now they have added Sebastien Reid via transfer. I think they’ve got a huge line, and that (Wing-T) offence, they have run it since they were atoms. They are a well-oiled machine.
VL: Who is their unsung guy?
NC: Their quarterback needs to get a lot of credit. Everyone talks about Sammy (Sidhu) and Sebastien, but Kinsale (Philip) runs such a complicated offence so efficiently. He doesn’t throw many passes but I have watched him over the years and he has always impressed me. New Westminster just does things right. It’s going to be a big test for us.
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