After nearly running the table in the Vancouver Mainland Football League with a 9-1 regular season record in 2013, the midget Cowichan Bulldogs are hoping to replicate that success this fall.
The team won’t play at home until week five, but the season gets underway this Sunday on the road against the Comox Valley Raiders. A few more players would be beneficial, but head coach Opie Williams is ready to go to battle with the ones he has.
"I am looking forward to this season," Williams said. "Numbers are not as high as I would like them to be, but we’ll still have a great core. Not being able to get into the schools this year has hurt my recruiting effort this year. I couldn’t get that face-toface contact."
The Bulldogs will get just one of their 2013 captains back – lineman Nick Thomas, who will be counted on as a leader on and off the field. The offensive line will remain strong around the likes of veterans Tyler Hudson, Ryan Hennig and Travis McDonald, with new additions Justin Young, Brendan Lynch and Cameron Vanderleek, some of whom will be pulling double duty on the defensive line, along with starters Ronnie Fry and Will Piche.
The defensive backfield will be in good hands with Riley Caljouw, Mitch Hinton, Andrew Ketola, Brandon St. Clair, Garion Ferguson and Landon Conville returning.
Running backs Eric Williams and Eddy Walt will be back on offence, along with Kain Melchior, while the Bulldogs have some exciting newcomers at wide receiver.
Coach Williams expects a challenging season for the entire midget division of the VMFL.
"The league is very competitive this year," he said. "We have 11 teams again this year, with Cloverdale and Richmond returning back to midget level, but we lost North Langley and Victoria. North Surrey and Chilliwack are looking to be again strong forces in the league with a large number of players. Nanaimo will be another strong force, gaining players from the two high schools."