High school athletes overcome loss of Grade 12 season to earn spots on university teams

Even without the benefit of games in their Grade 12 seasons across all sports, the high school athletes in the Class of 2021 continue to sign on with university teams. That includes three members of the Mount Douglas Secondary Rams football squad. Not that the situation was ideal, of course. Far from it.

“It was upsetting, especially at first, to realize you would not be having a Grade 12 season because that is your final one and it’s traditionally an emotional time for most players,” said Rams middle-linebacker Cole Bunting, heading to Simon Fraser University of NCAA Div. 2.

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“It’s definitely sad.”

But that’s the way it is. Most of the high school Class of 2021 has sent out video from their Grade 11 seasons. But spring-sport athletes have had their entire high school careers, including Grades 11 and 12, wiped out. Football is a fall sport so those players at least got in their Grade 11 seasons in 2019 before the pandemic hit in March of 2020.

“I’m fortunate in that I made varsity in Grade 10 so was able to send out video of two seasons,” said Bunting, who won the B.C. championship with the Rams in Grade 10 and made the provincial quarter-finals in Grade 11.

Bunting’s Mount Douglas teammates Jackson Reid and Linden Williams are heading to play U Sports football for the Queen’s Golden Gaels and the University of Ottawa Gee Gees, respectively. Six-foot-five Reid can pretty much do it all as running back, receiver and place kicker. Williams also has versatility, on both sides of the ball, as wide receiver and safety.

Geared more to NCAA recruitment, B.C. is the only Canadian province in which high school football is played under American four-down rules with the smaller field. Reid and Williams will have to adjust in U Sports to the three-down Canadian game on the larger field, while Bunting feels he will have a smooth transition to four-down NCAA football at SFU.

“That was a big decider for me,” said Bunting, who came out of the Saanich Wolverines and Victoria Renegades youth programs.

“To be able to play American football in Canada at SFU is a huge bonus. I like the American rules better than the Canadian rules. They are two totally different games.”

Six-foot-one and 215-pound Bunting is an aggressive and agile linebacker who can quickly plug holes.

“SFU said they liked my old-school style and attitude,” he said.

“I plan to take football as far as it will take me. Pro football is my goal.”

HIGH SCHOOL NOTES: Royal Bay Secondary Ravens soccer player Laurianne Chiasson, a striker and winger out of the Juan de Fuca youth program, has committed to NCAA Div. 1 Providence.

The high school girls’ soccer season is held in the spring, so both 2020 and 2021 were cancelled. But that didn’t stop Chiasson from realizing her ambitions of post-secondary soccer while studying in the Buller School of Business at Providence.

“The best way to success is going through failures first so if we have bad days we just need to do it better in practices or games the next time,” said Chiasson, in a statement, upon signing her letter of intent to play for the Pilots.

“Providence will provide just that and be a lot of fun. I am very excited about joining Providence’s soccer team and to be able to make new connections with people. I will always say we win as a team, we lose as a team, we draw as a team and we have fun as a team. So if we are enjoying our team and time, then we are being successful.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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