The late Prince hailed from Minnesota, where purple is the colour of Vikings football. It’s also the colour of the reigning B.C. high school champion Mount Douglas Rams.
Now there will be a deluge of Purple Rain across U Sports and NCAA football the next five seasons as seven graduating players from the Rams have committed to university teams.
Headed to U Sports are defensive end Aiden Bertuzzi with the UBC Thunderbirds, wide receiver Dante Carbone with the University of Calgary Dinos, punter-kicker Sebastian Hansen with Queen’s, offensive lineman Ivan Xu with the University of Regina Rams and defensive end Aiden Wold with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Offensive-backfield brothers Gideone and Zairech Kremler will play for the Simon Fraser University Clan in NCAA Div 2.
Everything seems possible at this stage of budding careers.
“My goal is to win the Vanier Cup at Regina and then play pro in the CFL,” said Xu.
But sporting dreams need to be tempered with backup plans. For Xu, it’s policing with the RCMP if pro football doesn’t pan out after university.
What the 270-pound Xu lacks in height at six feet, he makes up for with power and technique. Xu blew open massive holes in opposing defensive lines for the likes of Zairech Kremler to run through as head coach Mark Townsend’s Rams won their fifth provincial high school championship in eight seasons last fall at B.C. Place Stadium. But Xu knows his is probably the least glamorous position in football.
“We don’t get the glory, but I know all our backs and quarterback [Gideone Kremler] were grateful for what our offensive line did this season.”
“Our whole team had a lot of chemistry. We stepped out onto the field and just performed,” said Xu.
Now, that purple pride will seep through university football programs across Canada. Not that it’s anything new. The Rams’ high school program has produced more than 50 university players since 2008.