In their first regular-season game, the Duchess Park Condors were a perfectly-tuned football machine.
On Saturday night at Masich Place Stadium, the Condors were deadly in the air and on the ground and rolled to a 42-6 win against the Correlieu Clan of Quesnel. In the senior varsity contest, Duchess Park generated 510 yards of total offence.
Rylan Matters, the Grade 10 quarterback of the Condors, tossed for 150 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 65 yards and a TD of his own.
"He's strong, he's fast and his ability to run the ball is crazy," Duchess Park coach Mike Rositano said of Matters. "He also reads the field very well. He can throw the deep ball and he can throw a very hard pass."
Matters had plenty of support in the victory as teammates Dhalathan Kandasamy and Brendan Moreau rumbled for 110 yards and 100 yards respectively.
The Condors and Clan compete in the Northern Conference of the B.C. High School Football Association. Other teams in the Northern Conference are the Nechako Valley Vikings of Vanderhoof, College Heights Cougars and Kelly Road Roadrunners. All five are in the provincial double-A division.
In the standings, the Vikings are currently on top at 2-0. They are followed by the Condors (1-0), Cougars (1-1), Clan (0-1) and Roadrunners (0-2). On Nov. 2, the two playoff finalists will meet in the P.G. Bowl and will then move on to the provincial playdowns.
Last season, the Vikings and Condors clashed in the P.G. Bowl and Nechako Valley beat Duchess 13-6 in a mild upset. The teams are the early favourites to play in the game again.
The Vikings are led by quarterback Connor Nielsen, who is currently the top-rated passer in the provincial double-A category. In the Vikings' two games, he has thrown for 405 yards and six touchdowns.
The next game for the Condors is Friday (7 p.m., Masich Place Stadium) against College Heights. Earlier that night (5 p.m.), the Roadrunners will clash with Correlieu.
In the junior varsity ranks, Duchess Park is also proving to be a force this season.
This past Friday, the Condors beat the visiting Pemberton Grizzlies 27-12. Duchess was led by its big three of Caleb Cruse, Daniel Stratton and Matters, who also plays at the junior level. Cruse, at quarterback, was good on 17 of 20 pass attempts and finished with 224 yards in the air and one touchdown. He also had one rushing touchdown on six carries. Stratton, meanwhile, ran for 165 yards and Matters rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Cruse, six-foot-one and 170 pounds, has been nearly unstoppable so far this season.
"He reminds me of Andrew Luck [of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts]," said Rositano, who also coaches the junior Condors. "He's smart, he reads the field very well and he's pretty fast. I think he's got a good future."
Cruse is masterful at finding open receivers and completing short passes for gains.
In recent weeks, the Condors have also posted convincing wins against Kelly Road (63-26) and Nechako Valley (30-0).
The next game for the Duchess Park juniors is Thursday at 5 p.m. at Masich Place against College Heights.
The junior varsity version of the P.G. Bowl is slated for Oct. 25.