With the start of the school year suspended due to the ongoing strike by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, the B.C. High School Football Association (BCHSFA) will kick off its season as scheduled – albeit on a reduced scale.
Preseason play will take place over the next couple of weekends, with some teams to play as scheduled, others having rescheduled the opposition, and a few teams not playing at all.
“It doesn’t affect us that much,” said Seaquam Seahawks head coach Jerry Mullis. “It’s a choice each teacher has to make. We’re on volunteer time, it’s extracurricular.”
The Seahawks and Frank Hurt Hornets both have community (non-teacher) coaches, keeping the impact of job action to a minimum. Seaquam will host the South Delta Sun Devils as scheduled Saturday, while the Frank Hurt Hornets have been forced to reschedule their first game. Instead of playing Friday against the Earl Marriott Mariners, the Hornets will tackle the Handsworth Royals. The Mariners won’t play preseason games while the labour dispute is ongoing.
“There’s no football (games) right now, but we’re practising with community assistance, like we always have,” said Earl Marriott head coach Mike MacKay-Dunn. “We’re lucky to have people (from the community) who’ve always helped us out.”
BCHSFA estimates 75 per cent of its teams at the Grade 8, Junior and Senior levels will play as scheduled during the teachers’ strike.
“The board has decided the coaches who do decide to continue to participate should not cross picket lines,” said BCHSFA first vice-president Kris Pechet. “And if coaches or teams don’t participate, there are no sanctions. It’s freedom of choice.”
In the Southern Conference of the Senior AA category, four of the six teams are playing preseason games. In addition to Frank Hurt and Seaquam, the Holy Cross Crusaders are also on the field as they are unaffected by the labour dispute as a private school.
But the Hugh Boyd Trojans of Richmond and the Langley Saints and a number of teams in other divisions won’t play, which will likely lead to a revised schedule for the regular season.
“There are plans in place to get the season in, even if it’s an extended one by a few weeks,” said MacKay-Dunn. “We’ll meet next Tuesday and discuss some contingency plans, but whenever we get going, we’ll be ready to go 110 per cent.”
“The regular season can be pushed back two weeks,” added Mullis. “I get the feeling this will be settled in mid- to late-September.”