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South Delta will have new conference football rivals this season

The Sun Devils’ pre-season schedule includes a visit from the Kelowna Owls this Saturday, Sept. 9
Ray Moon is in his 22nd season coaching the South Delta Sun Devils senior varisty team including the last 18 years as head coach. Mark Booth Photo

The South Delta Sun Devils are replacing B.C. Ferries reservations with regular trips across the Alex Fraser Bridge for the coming 2023 season.

A shuffling of B.C. High School Football’s three “AAA” divisions has taken the Sun Devils away from some of their long-time rivals including Victoria’s Mt. Doug Rams, Vancouver College and Notre Dame. They are now part of the Central Division where they are joined by Tri-Cities schools Centennial and Terry Fox, along with New West, Seaquam and West Kelowna’s Mt. Boucherie.

“I figured with Tsawwassen being right on the edge of the water we would always be playing (Mt. Doug and Belmont),” said Ray Moon, entering his 17th season as the Sun Devils head coach and 21st overall. “Having those games against VC, Mt. Doug or Notre Dame pushed us to excel. We knew we had to be our best on that day. We also know there are no pushovers in this division with programs like Terry Fox and St. Thomas More. It’s going to be interesting.”

Thanks to a now well-established junior varsity team run by teacher coach Scott Martens, student interest in football has never been stronger with the senior team expecting to dress 46 players this season.

“We’ve got 16 defensive linemen, 16 defensive backs and about 13 or 14 linebackers, so instead of heavy concentration in one group we’ve got depth in all of them,” said Moon. “The hope is to try and get a number of them only playing one way. We’ve got some great athleticism, size on the lines and a good mixture of seniors and Grade 11s.

“We had a good number of them in the (off-season) weight training and completing conditioning programs, so they are really starting to buy in and be excited about it. Our biggest challenge now is making sure all of them stay interested.”

The Sun Devils are coming off a highly-competitive campaign that concluded with a heartbreaking 48-47 overtime loss to GW Graham in the provincial quarter-finals.

Legendary offensive coordinator Jerry Mulliss has plenty of returning weapons to work with including top receivers Morgan MacCubbin and Dawson Sjoberg, along with leading rusher Ryan Roberts.

Darius Hanna and Dominic Dumas are the team’s options at quarterback with the graduation of standout Kenny Scott. Hanna made the most of his lone start last season, leading the Sun Devils past New West in the Kushnir Boot rivalry game.

“We are in decent shape with the biggest challenge being how quickly our kids can gain from quality game reps because there were some Grade 12s that we really leaned on last year,” added Moon.

The Sun Devils’ pre-season schedule includes a visit from the Kelowna Owls this Saturday, Sept. 9 (3 p.m.) followed by a trip to Chilliwack to face GW Graham on Sept. 15.

All home games will be played across the street at Dennison Park as the program anxiously waits for field improvements at the SDSS oval.