As head coach of the South Delta Sun Devils junior varsity team, Scott Martens’ task is much greater than just trying to win football games.
As the lone coach of the entire football program that also happens to be a teacher at the Tsawwassen school, it’s making sure the flow of student athletes into the senior and junior teams continues. His tireless efforts are paying off.
The junior varsity (JV) squad attracted nearly 70 players for its annual spring camp back in May and found enough additional equipment elsewhere to settle for a record roster of 45. A good number of the Grade 9s are in their first year playing the tackle version of football.
“There's been a good chunk that came through the South Delta Rams (community tackle program) and then there's like another added layer of guys who are new to tackle coming from their (spring) flag season. The Rams are running great programs so the interest is there. We just got to turn them into football players,” explained Martens.
“It's a bit of the culture here too. It’s been in this community for years. The Rams have done really well and we've won three provincial titles so kids kind of hear about it. We’ve also got a couple of students that have come over from Delta Secondary just to play football.”
The JV Sun Devils are currently working their way through their non-conference schedule that wraps up this week against the Seaquam Seahawks. They slipped to 1-2 with a tough 22-21 loss to the Handsworth Royals last Thursday. The North Shore visitors scored the winning touchdown with 69 seconds remaining on a desperation fourth down heave into the end zone that was caught on a deflection.
A tough Western Division schedule begins next month against such traditional powerhouses as Vancouver College, Notre Dame and Mt. Doug. Martens is fine with the challenge, knowing he is grooming his players to face the very same teams at the senior level.
“We should be 3-0 right now. We had a 19-7 lead then a bunch of turnovers really hurt us. Today we are up 12-0, give up a kickoff for a touchdown then had something like 150 yards in penalties. We just shot ourselves in the foot,” Martens continued. “But we’ve got some athletes and just need to clean some things up and then we will be fine.”
Martens is utilizing the Hudl video and data platform to mentor his players and help prepare them position-by-position for the next opponent.
“It’s an awesome tool where the kids can watch game film at home. I'll break it down. I give them the formations and the scouting report each week so they can start to understand like why we align in certain ways,” continued Martens, a SDSS football alumni himself.
“I really do think it’s the best high school sport. We thought we had to make cuts because of (a lack of equipment) not because we had too many players. Everyone can be part of it. Whether you are a starter or working your way towards being one. A kid like (2022 graduate and receiver) Declan Dunn rarely played in Grade 9 but with his attitude and work ethic, he just kept getting better and is now playing at the University of Alberta.
“I think in your teenage years you want to play be a part of something. Not all these guys are necessarily friends or knew each other before but you build relationships. And I think ultimately that's what it's about is relationships and me trying to build a culture where it's a good place to be whether you're the best athlete or you're working your tail off to make the team better.”