The Duchess Park Condors are in rebuilding mode.
The senior team lost a core of Grade 12 athletes to graduation last spring and is counting on a group of Grade 11 players for success in the Northern High School Football Conference this season.
The team opens defence of its 2014 regular-season title Friday at Masich Place Stadium when it hosts Vanderhoof's Nechako Valley at 5 p.m.
Leading the offence is Grade 11 quarterback Jacob Cundy, who has advanced through the system from the Condors junior varsity squad. He also saw playing time last year as a running back on the senior team. He'll be joined by six-foot-five senior tackle Cody Cruse, as well as Zack Bundock, who's versatile as a running back, tight end and linebacker. There's also offensive tackle Brett Stubbs - six-foot-two, 285 pounds - and five-foot-10 receiver Mason Stokes.
"Cody is one of the seniors who's a big boy and that people look up to," said Condors head coach Richard Bundock, who takes over the reigns from Mike Rositano this season. "We're expecting a lot from him, as well as Jacob and Zack. Both Brett and Cody are mobile and they lead by example. They're quick enough now.
"Jacob is strong for his age. (He's) is a very good athlete. (For him) it gets a little bit easier, the field gets a little bit smaller and he adds on some maturity with another year. Everybody is working together. We're not harping on them at all."
The Condors were the top team in the northern conference last season when they edged PGSS 21-16 in the final regular season match-up. But Bundock knows the Condors will be in tough this season against the Polars, who have an improved lineup.
"PGSS has quite the squad," said Bundock. "They have the ideal attitude and age. They have some great kids and we hope to give them a good test this year. (We'll) try to knock them off at least once. With PGSS it's going to be really good. You need to have competition to make yourselves better.
"They're all good friends. They play hard against each other. They're friends across the group - doesn't matter if it's College Heights, Kelly Road because when they go to Team B.C. they all work together."
The senior Condors have had about 33 guys come out for practice while the numbers have been a little lower for the junior varsity team.
On of the JVs who can play both at the senior and junior level is Colburn Pearce, a Grade 10 athlete.
"He's a huge leader for us," said coach Bundock. "There are a handful of kids who can play both junior and senior. With Colburn, we love him on defence because he reads the ball so well. When he's running, he's one of those kids who sees the field."
The JVs quarterback is Andrew Johnson. They are coached by Matt Pearce.
- with files from Ted Clarke