Earl Marriott Mariners coach Michael Mackay-Dunn works with senior linemen during a recent practice. (Photo courtesy of EMS Football)

Young, ‘enthusiastic’ Mariners hit South Surrey gridiron

Senior team returns to fold as B.C. high school football season begins

A year after Earl Marriott Secondary’s football program failed to field a senior team due to a lack of players, the school’s oldest squad is back on the gridiron as “enthusiastic” as ever, according to the team’s longtime head coach.

The team is young, however, and relatively inexperienced, with just two Grade 12 starters and the rest of the roster filled out with Grade 11s and even a few talented Grade 10 underclassmen, but that hasn’t dulled Michael Mackay-Dunn’s positivity when it comes to his football program this fall.

“We’re young, senior-wise, but on our junior team, we have some strong players and the Grade 8s look promising, so overall, I’m not complaining,” he said.

“With the seniors, we knew it would be this way – about half our players have played a year or less.”

Participation numbers are on the upswing, Mackay-Dunn said, as more and more students are drawn to the football field.

With so many newcomers, it simply puts more pressure on the coaching staff to prepare them, said Mackay-Dunn, who has been head coach of the Mariners’ football program since its inception in 2005.

“We’re starting to attract some really good athletes who’ve never played football before, so our challenge as coaches is to bring up their football IQ to a level where they can perform without thinking – where they can execute without having to think about what they have to do out there, because once you have to think, you’re a step behind on the play.

“But it’s great to see so many of them coming out and getting involved. It’s a challenge, but it’s going to be good.”

For Mackay-Dunn himself, that coaching challenge is doubled this year, as he is coaching both the senior and junior squads; last year’s junior coach, teacher Scott Martens, switched schools to be closer to his home in Delta.

“It hasn’t been too bad. I still get a day off now and then,” he joked.

One added bonus of the new coaching situation, he pointed out, is that both teams learn the same system, same plays and also practice together, which should make for an easier adjustment when the juniors eventually join the senior team.

“It lessens the learning curve. In fact, there shouldn’t even be one,” Mackay-Dunn said.

As well, the program has been aided this fall by one of B.C.’s best, most experienced coaches – Bill Haddow, formerly of Richmond’s Hugh Boyd Trojans. Haddow, who hung up his head-coaching whistle at the conclusion of Hugh Boyd’s season last year, is a Semiahmoo Peninsula resident and longtime friend of Mackay-Dunn’s.

“We go back a long ways, the Haddow brothers – both Bill and Bruce – so it’s great to have another person to bounce ideas off of,” Mackay-Dunn said.

The senior team – playing in the triple-A Pacific Conference – has already jumped into its regular-season schedule, and lost its first game last Friday to W.J. Mouat, and plays again this Friday, 1 p.m. at EMS, against visiting Sardis.

The juniors play Thursday afternoon against Notre Dame, also at home.

Though the Mariners – who won back-to-back double-A titles in 2014 and ‘15 before making the move to the triple-A level – jumped directly into regular-season play last week without any pre-season games as is usually the case, both the senior and junior teams did get in one exhibition tilt south of the border, against Blaine High School.

And though the senior squad lost to the high-powered American squad, Mackay-Dunn was thrilled that the juniors pulled out a 9-6 victory, thanks in part to Cole Parker, whom the veteran coach called “probably the best young kicker in the province.”

“He’s only in Grade 10, but he’s playing for both our teams. In Blaine, he kicked a 35-yard field goal into the wind, and we only won that game 9-6. It was a big kick and he put it right through.”

Wins and losses aside, Mackay-Dunn has repeatedly stressed the need to see improvement from all three Mariner teams, especially at the senior level, because the majority of the roster will be eligible to return next year.

“We just have to stick together, keep our enthusiasm up and keep our willingness to learn,” he said. “We’re always looking for ways to improve, and that goes for us coaches, too.

“What you see on the field is a reflection of the coaching. It’s like a director of a film – something shows up on the screen, and you go, ‘Did I do that?’ We have to coach them right and make sure they know what they’re doing. We’re just going to focus on what we do well, and try to build on those positives.”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Visit us at peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP looking for missing 17-year-old girl

Police say Rachel Friend was last seen at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 19, near the 14900-block of 81A Avenue

Three-team trade brings another goalie into Surrey Eagles’ nest

BCHL team ships Chase Stevenson to Trail and acquires blue-liner, goalie

McCallum promises taxes won’t rise in Surrey: ‘That’s set in stone’

Surrey mayor says free parking, a municipal force and other campaign promises won’t mean a tax hike

Surrey council approves free two-hour parking at city hall, around hospital

Although council gave its blessing to offer the free parking Monday (Nov. 19), it was already made free last week

Surrey School District says it needs 7 new schools in next decade

Surrey council endorsed the district’s 2019-20 capital plan on Monday, Nov. 19

White Rock pier light show

Dancing lights highlighted off the water front

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

5 to start your day

Body found in Maple Ridge ID’ed as Hells Angel, Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag gone from Langley classroom and more

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Most Read

l -->