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Sun Devils are provincial rugby champions for the very first time

Motivated multi-sport athletes help South Delta capture B.C. AAA Tier One title

Add rugby to the list of provincial championship teams at South Delta Secondary School.

The Sun Devils capped their breakthrough season with a 35-22 win over the Bateman Timberwolves in the B.C. Secondary Schools Rugby Union’s “AAA” Tier One title game at Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford on Saturday. That makes it three B.C. titles won by SDSS teams in recent years, joining football and girls volleyball. It also comes on the same weekend the girls soccer team won provincial bronze and the track and field program produced several top 10 finishes at the B.C. championships.

So what has the Tsawwassen school firing on all cylinders in several sports? It’s all about school pride and tradition. Just ask Jacob Kirk.

It was a little over three years ago he watched his older brother Lucas quarterback the Sun Devils to a provincial title. Jacob would play three sports over the next couple of seasons and twice lost semi-final heartbreakers on the football field.  Saturday was his final shot at glory, an opportunity he and his teammates embraced.

“Just to step on this field for the last time wearing yellow and gold is incredible. The feeling right now is surreal and I’m so thankful to be able to do it in my last ever game as a Sun Devil,” beamed Kirk who is continuing his football career at the University of Calgary in September.

Michael Calvert also has big plans on the football field with the UBC Thunderbirds. It would have been easy for the Provincial MVP quarterback to take a pass on playing rugby and focus on his upcoming freshman year. Instead, he joined the team in the late stages of the season and made a huge impact in the Devils’ championship run.

On Saturday, the usually offensively dynamic outside centre produced a number of turnovers on punishing tackles that cemented his spot on the Commissioner’s IV Team.

“I felt we already have a lot of guys who can score. I just thought I should dedicate myself to defence today and make sure they don’t get any big runs against us,” said Calvert.

“It’s great for our team and our school to be able to bring back the first (provincial) banner in rugby. Just going through high school and being so close in football and rugby before, it feels good to be ending my high school career as a champion.”

It also takes contributions from players of all sizes and ages to be successful in rugby. That was certainly evident in the final in what was one of the team’s most complete games.

“The story of our season has been we often come out a little sluggish and it takes a few (hits) to get the guys in gear,” said an emotional head coach Spencer Baines, who has worked tirelessly to make rugby relevant again at SDSS, along with his brother Matt. “Usually our forwards just take the ball up and up. Today, they really moved the ball and found where the holes were. We were just much more dynamic.”

South Delta surrendered an early penalty then took over with three unanswered converted tries, including a pair from Grade 10 Evan Patterson. Calvert added the other and the Devils took a commanding 21-3 into halftime.

Bateman cut the deficit to 11 points in the early stages of the second half but the comeback bid was shortlived when Ethan Troniak, another Grade 10 starter, broke loose for a try from 60-metres out. The fearless Andrew Kraft added his team’s final score with about five minutes remaining.

“We have been talking all season about doing something this school has never done before,” said Kraft, another standout football player. “We lost the Fraser Valleys here a couple of weeks ago but we just told ourselves to ‘keep going and going.’ Today showed what can happen if you don’t give up.”

The Sun Devils opened the championships with a 31-8 quarter-final win over Lord Byng last Wednesday and outlasted West Vancouver 17-5 in the semi-finals a day later.

 The roster also features: Dimitri Goulas, Cole Howes, Arda Elmasaalu, Riley Storey. Max Cantlon, Morgan Wosley, Caleb Van Til, Dylan Hampton, Kaedin Konowalchuk, Keldon Olmstead, Douglas Jameson, Chase Marshall, Jesse Conroy, Colton Mcdougall, Ben Lingham, Maverick Silvera, Severin Saubert, Ethan Prasad, George Johnston, Ryan Choi and James Plante.