KANATA – Football season is finally here, and the West Carleton Wolverine mosquitos are leading the way for the football club as Week 2 of the National Capital Amateur Football Association (NCAFA) comes to a close.
The 2019 tackle NCAFA season officially kicked off Saturday, Aug. 10 and the West Carleton Wolverines Football Club will have three age groups competing in the season. This year there will be a tyke, mosquito nine-versus-nine and peewee team playing in the league covering Ottawa and some of the surrounding area.
West Carleton Online caught up with the mosquito team for their home opener, unfortunately played in Kanata due to the lack of outdoor lighting at West Carleton Secondary School, last Friday night (Aug. 23).
The mosquitoes, aged nine, 10 and 11, kicked off the season Saturday, Aug. 17 at Minto Field winning their first game 41-13 on the road against the Myers Riders. In Week 2, the Wolverines faced off against the Bell Warriors and suffered their first loss of the season, 50-0 against the 2-0 team.
Coach Corey Deslauriers caught up with West Carleton Online today (Aug. 26) and says he likes what he sees.
“These kids play the same whether it’s a win or a loss,” the third-year coach told West Carleton Online. “They have no quit and they’re all heart.”
In the nine-versus-nine league, each team plays with nine instead of 11 players on a smaller field that measures 90 yards long, 42 yards wide and with a 10-yard endzone.
In this division, teams are allowed a 28-person roster, but the Wolverines only have 20 on the squad as it currently stands. Deslauriers says that can be a plus for young football players.
“It is a very small roster,” he said. “So, the kids get a bit of an opportunity to play both sides of the ball and get a deeper understanding of the game.”
And as is the case with a lot of summer youth sports, every player isn’t always available for every game.
In Week 1, the Wolverines only reached the minimum of 15 players required to start the game. Their opponent, the Riders, also just reached the minimum.
In Week 2, the Wolverines again only had the minimum, but this time their opponent had the full roster. Add that to the fact the team’s first ‘home game’ of the season would be being played on the road, made for some unique challenges.
“That was a bit of a weird night having to play our home game in Kanata,” Deslauriers said. “I think seeing the other squad had double the roster was a bit shocking. But the kids had no quit.”
Numbers have been trending downward in football across the city the last few years. A new safety rule preventing players from playing more than one game a week, in any league has contributed to the fact there is no longer a bantam Wolverines team. Many of the players that used to play bantam also play high school football and have chosen to continue in those leagues rather than NCAFA.
“Getting kids out to football is down across the board, not just the Wolverines,” Deslauriers said.
But the kids who are making it out are getting a lot of football in. The team practiced three nights a week in the lead up to the season starting at the end of July. Now that the season has started the team practices twice a week and safety is always the top priority.
“Football Canada requires every player take three hours of training of Safe Tackle before they can even begin to practice,” Deslauriers said. “And we always double that. Safety is our Number One priority.”
Deslauriers credits his offensive coordinator Jordan Singbeil and defensive coordinator Brandon Potter with their dedication to the team to ensure their players play safe and play hard.
“They dedicate six hours a week at practice each week,” Deslauriers said. “And double that comping up with our weekly game plan. I’m blessed to have such a committed staff.”
Deslauriers also credits high school student Jonathan Stroud who volunteers his time to coach the offensive linesmen.
Next up for the mosquitoes is a rematch against the Warriors, this time at the opponent’s field on Sept. 1, which ostensibly means the mosquitoes will have played their first three games of the season away from home.
The Wolverines tykes dropped their first game of the season 48-12 to the Myers Riders on Aug. 17 and their second game 72-6 to the Cumberland Panthers on Aug. 25. On Sept. 1 the team will take on the Bell Warriors.
The peewees start the season 1-1 losing to the Myers Riders 51-0 on Aug. 17 before bouncing back on a long trip to Orleans to beat the Bengals 46-22. They will also take on the Warriors on the road Sept. 1.