The Seaquam Seahawks are one win away from the team’s first football championship in a decade.
The North Delta team will face off against the Vernon Secondary Panthers on Saturday at the Subway Bowl B.C. high school AA football championship game.
It’s been almost ten years to the day since the team’s last championship win, said Seaquam head coach Jerry Mulliss.
“Our goal is to win the game and win the championship,” he said. “Our philosophy has always been, it’s always about the kids. It’s about how they play and what it means for them.”
Seaquam beat Chillwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies 26-7 last weekend in a semi-final game at B.C. Place, clinching a spot in the final. According to Mulliss, the Seahawks’ year-long mantra was “drive for the dome.”
“It’s a culmination of that goal, which is tremendous,” he said.
It’ll be a challenging final, Mulliss noted, calling Vernon a talented and focused team.
“They’re tough. They’re very well coached, they’re big [and] they’re fast. They’re a tough team, they do things very, very well. It’s going to be one heck of a game,” he said. “I told the kids in practice last night – this is going to be the game of their lives and they’re going to have to play the game of their lives to beat these guys.”
Seaquam quarterback Josh Haydu said he’s excited heading into Saturday’s game.
“I think we’re going to do great, we just need to stay focused and be under control,” he said. “They have a couple really good players but I think we can match up well against them.”
The Grade 11 student said playing in the dome heightens the impact of the final.
“It’s a surreal experience. You can tell the atmosphere is completely different.”
Kris Pechet, president of B.C. High School Football Association and former Seaquam football coach, can recall the team’s last championship win in 2006, beating out Richmond’s Hugh Boyd Secondary Trojans. According to Pechet, the level of play in high school football has improved every year.
“Seaquam has an exciting, fast team that can score quickly,” he said.
Vernon’s place in the final is notable, he added.
“This is the first time since back in I think 1995 or 1996 that an Interior team is in the championship.”
For Mulliss, it will also be his last game as coach at Seaquam after recently undergoing sextuple bypass surgery. “It’s just time to take a few months off and get fully healthy and enjoy life for a little bit,” he said.
His coaching career has spanned 49 years, at all levels of play. Pechet, who previously worked as Seaquam head coach alongside then-assistant coach Mulliss, describes him as hard working, diligent, and devoted, with a love of the game and his players.
“He demands a high degree of excellence and dedication from his players and he’s willing to supply that in return,” Pechet said.
Quarterback Haydu agreed.
“Jerry is a great coach. He understands a lot about the game and he’s really great with the players,” he said.
For Mulliss, the focus is on the game.
“We hope to go out with a bang and bring a trophy back to Seaquam for the first time in 10 years.”
The championship game will take place at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 3, at B.C. Place Stadium.