After waiting more than a year to play football against their provincial peers, a group of 60 Prince George football players finally got their chance to put all that practice to use again in game situations.
The Prince George Kodiaks Football Club sent three teams to the B.C. Provincial Football Association Academy Tournament, an all-day affair Saturday in Surrey.
The U-18 Kodiaks had a crew of 27 players, the U-16 Kodiaks were 28 players strong, while five U-14 Kodiaks joined forces with players from Vancouver Island and Vancouver South to form a blended team for the nine-a-side tackle tournament.
Although final standings were not available, Kodiaks coach Ryan Bellamy said each of the teams represented the city well, with the U-18 and U-16 teams each finishing in the top half of their respective age groups. The 25-minute games went on from 8 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
“The players played well and it was our first football since pre-pandemic,” said Bellamy, his voice still hoarse from barking out instructions to his players from the sidelines in Surrey.
“The U-18 team was locked in from the start. They were hitting good, they were running their plays and their timing was good. Lots of guys came ready to play in that age group. Noah Lank (Duchess Park running back) and Jerome Erickson (College Heights quarterback) played really well.
“That U-14 team did really good against the two Vancouver teams,” he said. “The U-14 kids have been practicing against the U-16 kids and when they figured it out against kids their own age it was a pretty good group of kids we threw together.”
For the Prince George players, the academy tournament was their chance to audition for an invitation to return to Vancouver for a three-day selection camp, July 16-18,to try to earn spots on the 45-player rosters for provincial team in each of the three age divisions. Those provincial teams will represent B.C. in the Canada Cup tournament in December at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver.
Next up for the Kodiaks is a seven-a-side tackle tournament in Calgary, the Western Canadian national championships, July 2nd. All three age divisions will be represented.
Keon Raymond, a former CFL all-star with the Calgary Stampeders, introduced two weeks ago as the Kodiaks’ new director of football operations, will be running the tournament in his last official duty with the Calgary club before he makes the move to Prince George.
This Friday, the Kodiaks Elementary School touch football league, for players in Grades 2-7, wraps up with games at Masich Place Stadium, from 5-8:45 p.m..