Mike Rositano and Ryan Bellamy eat, sleep and breathe football.
Their love of the game got them involved as players in the Prince George Minor Football Association and they took that experience to the next level as coaches in the PGMFA and Prince George high school league.
Their passion to develop student athletes on the football field has earned them positions on the Football BC Grade 8 (under-14) all-star squad at the Football University (FBU) National Championship regional
tournament in December in Seattle.
The cool thing about this is its an
international-level coaching experience for us, said Rositano. It just shows how football is growing here, that our coaches are being noticed at the higher levels. Its a pretty nice opportunity for us.
The 40-year-old Rositano has 22 years of experience as a football coach, starting in the PGMFA. He moved up to the Prince George high school ranks when the league formed in 2004 and has been head coach of the Duchess Park Condors senior team ever since.
Bellamy, 28, also has a extensive background in the PGMFA and was head coach of the Kelly Road Roadrunners from 2006-2012. Now working in Calgary, he still serves as a
part-time coach for the Roadrunners.
Rositano and Bellamy are the first northern B.C. coaches to ever serve on a Football BC provincial all-star team. Nick Kawaza, a former junior football coach in the BCJFA with the Surrey/Langley Rams, will serve as head coach of the B.C. Grade 8 team.
Noah Williams, who plays for the Prince George Polars junior varsity team, is among 45 players vying for 35 spots on the provincial Grade 8 team. The final cuts will be made following the last tryout camp, Nov. 22-24 in Vancouver.
B.C.s first game is on Dec. 7 against Eastern Idaho/Northern Washington. A win would send B.C. to the regional final the following day against the winner of the Seattle-Oregon game. The regional champion will qualify for the FBU national tournament in Sacramento. Calif., starting Dec. 14.
Football University offers invitation-only, football training camps geared towards elite-level athletes in Grades 6-11. Training at the FBU camps in the Canada, the U.S. and Europe is provided by NFL coaches and players. The organization also organizes games to showcase the talents of youth and high school players, including the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, U.S. Army National Combine, and Eastbay Youth All-American Bowl, and the Top Gun tournament that features 700 of the best high school players.
All the top players from Canada and the U.S. go down to the FBU camps and learn about college life and how to get themselves recruited, said Rositano.
Travis Shields of Kelly Road played for the B.C. under-18 team two years ago. Duchess Park defensive lineman Brogan Cruse has been invited to try out for that team this year.
B.C. is entered in the FBU International Games, part of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week activities in San Antonio, Texas in early January 2014.
B.C.s under-16 team won the Red River Cup national tournament in Winnipeg in July.
Twenty-three of Rositanos Condors attended a skills camp in Oregon in July, where they scrimmaged against the Portland Christian high school team. The Condors also travelled to Nanaimo to play John Barsby secondary and were in Abbotsford to face the Robert Bateman senior team. Both exhibition games resulted in lopsided losses but both opponents rank among the top teams in the province.
The Condors have taken advantage of that experience to get a good jump on the season. They took a 4-0 record into a Friday night Northern Conference game at Masich Place Stadium against the Correlieu Clan of Quesnel. Heading into that contest, the Condors had outscored their opponents by a combined 165-19.
I knew wed be good this year but I didnt think wed be as dominant as we are, said Rositano.
Were putting up an average 30 or 40 points a game. The team camp in Oregon really helped the kids. Theyre used to playing some high-level competition. The teams here are good but theyre not at the level of the teams we faced this summer.
Rylan Matters of Duchess Park is the top-ranked double-A varsity quarterback in the BC High School Football Association. He began Fridays game averaging 202 yards passing per game with a 66.7 per cent completion rate and 10 passing touchdowns. Caleb Cruse has been Matterss favourite target, hauling in 13 catches for a league-leading 312 yards and four TDs.
College Heights and Kelly Road also played on Friday night.