Brand new Nike jerseys, a fresh set of eyes running the offence, and a group of seasoned athletes have Bateman Timerwolves head coach David Mills excited for the 2018 B.C. high school football regular season.
The Wolves struggled through a winless regular season campaign in 2017, but some of the lessons learned last year could lead to growth for the AA conference team.
Bateman has been hitting the practice field since Aug. 20, with about 25 players on the senior varsity team. Mills said size and athleticism is what makes this year’s edition of the Timberwolves a potentially dangerous team.
“We have a great group of tall and athletic receivers,” he said, when asked about the team’s strengths. “Offensively we just have a nice mix of weapons.”
He pointed to Grade 12 quarterback Logan McDonald as another key piece of the puzzle. He had flashes of brilliance in the pivot role last year, and now should have more comfort behind centre with his father Lance McDonald, who also happens to be the Bateman principal, in the role of Wolves offensive co-ordinator.
“Logan is coming off a great year last year and should have another great one this year,” Mills said. “His dad is the offensive co-ordinator so they can talk about the game anytime they want.”
Mills said running back Phoenix Moller, as well as wide receivers Ryan Sztuhar and Sam Davenport will be important to the offence.
“I think we’ll have a lot of spread offence and shotgun when we have the ball,” he said. “We’ll also use quick passes and have a variety of plays to use Phoenix with. We just want to spread out the defence and move the ball around.”
He said defensively that Bateman will have many of the similar strengths they possess on offence.
“We have a lot of athletic defensive backs and tall linebackers so we’re going to load guys up front and try to stop the run,” he said. “If the other teams try to beat us in the air I think our tall guys in the back will give them problems.”
Mills said Davenport, Andres Guzman, Sztuhar and Jack Weinkauf will be some of the players to watch when the opposition has the ball. He said he’s optimistic about 2018.
“I think we’re going to be quite competitive and in our division I think any number of teams could finish first,” he said. “If we can be disciplined and limit our mental mistakes I think we have as good a shot as anyone. I think physically we can play with anyone in our conference.”
Bateman showed off some of that potential in the club’s first exhibition game on Friday. They defeated the Clarence Fulton Maroons 40-8 and had an outstanding performance from McDonald, who threw for four touchdowns and 244 yards in the win.
Sztuhar grabbed a pair of majors and collected 122 yards receiving, with Moller catching one and running for one. Davenport caught one touchdown and also scored a pick-six.
Moller also led the way defensively with 11 tackles.
Bateman continues the exhibition schedule on the road against the Windsor Dukes on Friday. The club hosts exhibition games on Sept. 21 and 28 and then opens the AA regular season at home on Oct. 5.
For more on the team, follow @BatemanFootball on Twitter.