The South Delta Sun Devils are a team that seems to have a clear identity heading into the stretch drive of the BC high school football season.
A high-powered offence averaging over 42 points a game has been the straw that stirs the drink for South Delta so far. And for long-time head coach Ray Moon, that’s hopefully the winning formula for a Subway Bowl championship.
“We figured we could challenge for a playoff spot,” said Moon on the team’s expectations heading into the season. “We were hoping we would be in the top eight hopefully top four because last year we were in the quarterfinals and were leading until our quarterback broke his thumb.
We’re eager to get back to the playoffs. We want to basically continue where we left off last and hopefully go further.”
A big part of that will be the health and continued great play of QB1 Ben MacDonald. He has over 1,000 yards on the season thus far, along with 22 passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Last year, they were leading Vancouver College in the quarterfinals of the playoffs until MacDonald had to leave. The Fighting Irish scored 48 straight points afterwards.
“He is I would say one of the best players in the province,” said Moon emphatically. “He’s been with our program since grade eight, so he’s basically grown up with varsity football.
He’s one of these natural students of the game, he can look at a field and identify certain things like if a guy is leaning too far forward or back, perhaps if he might not be able to keep up with a certain receiver, he just knows where everyone is supposed to be. When he gets into trouble, he can run, he can throw. [Against Notre Dame] he threw for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns and he also ran one in. [. . .] He’s one of the guys that knows every facet of the game, even returns the odd interception.”
Receivers Evan Patterson and Ethan Troniak are two big threats out wide that keep opponents guessing constantly. They’re part of a group of seniors and new additions that have led the way for the Sun Devils this season.
“Some of them played on the senior team as grade ten’s” explained Moon. “They have been playing football for seven, eight years going back into the community.
We were lucky that three of the rugby players decided to come out and play football. That was one of the missing pieces in our puzzle. It really helped propel us and the kids and the coaches were all happy.”
The ultimate sign that this group has gelled quickly?
A 38-23 win over Vancouver College in their first regular-season game. It may not heal the wounds from last season, but it certainly can’t hurt.
“The kids always get up for Vancouver College, they really want to go and play hard against them,” said Moon, who actually used to coach at Vancouver College. “We’ve taken turns kind of beating each other. There’s no love lost between the two teams, they go out and they play really hard.
It did feel good though, the kids liked it. Then it becomes my job that if we face them again that they don’t rest on their laurels. They have to know that Vancouver College is coming out for vengeance.”
As well, the level of buy-in from the players has amazed Moon and his fellow coaches.
“Like every team in the province, we try to work hard every day at practice,” he explained. “And that’s one of the things that are captains, like Ben [MacDonald], helps keep the team focused on what has to be done. [. . .] We stay focused, we scout the teams, we game plan as a coaching staff, we talk to the kids about it. It’s basically execution.
The kids, a lot of them put their egos aside and play where they can help the team, not for my personal accolades. [. . .] We’ve had to change starters out we felt were not doing the job and of course, they’re disappointed, but they can understand if they know it’s the betterment of our play and our team. Everyone understands that and right now we’ve had some success because of it.”
With everyone pulling in the same direction, the Sun Devils should be a team to look out for the rest of the way. They will play host to the Mount Douglas Rams this Saturday with a chance to remain perfect on the season.
Written by: Nick Bondi