In any provincial high school championship, the objective remains the same.
“The goal is to win, baby,” Oak Bay Bays coach Richard Fast said with a hearty chuckle. “You want to bring home that banner.”
Some goals are more realistic than others, but after sweeping through league play, claiming the Island triple-A championship and adding the Colonist Cup title last week, the Bays believe they should be in position to compete as the provincial 16-team field begins play Thursday at Burnaby Lake Sports Commplex.
The Bays will be joined by the Reynolds Roadrunners, the side Oak Bay downed in the Island final and Colonist Cup semis.
Claiming a B.C. championship is an entirely different beast, however. The Bays have not managed one since 1975.
“And they actually shared it back then. It was a tie and there were no rules to fix a tiebreaker,” said Fast, who acknowledges the difficulty in delivering a banner. “It’s very difficult and we’ve had some good teams, too, with a second, third and fifth. It’s been elusive.
“We have a strong team and we’re going in with a goal to win it,” added Fast, whose team travels today and opens play Thursday morning.
Oak Bay is situated in Pool B with Tamanawis, David Thompson and Terry Fox. Reynolds competes in Pool C with Dr. Charles Best, Lord Byng and Seaquam.
Oak Bay tackles Terry Fox on Thursday morning and plays David Thompson in the afternoon. Reynolds faces Lord Byng in the morning and Dr. Charles Best in the afternoon. The top pool winners will advance to semifinals on Friday afternoon, with the championship game set for Saturday morning.
The Bays and Roadrunners have seen little of the Mainland competition.
“It’s difficult to rank, in there are no crossovers, so it’s hard to know how strong your zone is until you start playing other ones,” said Fast, who stresses a need to play your own game.
“That’s all it comes down to. There is going to be some talent over there, for sure,” he said. “There’s a lot of depth with population size, the size of clubs and organizations — they’re going to have some talented players.”
Especially in the Fraser Valley where there are seven berths alone. “That’s where the strength of the tournament is, usually,” said Fast.
Last year the Bays finished ninth and the Roadrunners were 11th, but Fast likes his team’s chances this season.
“It’s the most fun I’ve had coaching Oak Bay in a very long time, since the early 2000s,” he said. “These kids have all bought in, they train hard, support each other and the chemistry is great. It’s fun to be around them and I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”
Meanwhile, defending double-A champions, the St. Michaels University School Blue Jags, went through the round-robin portion of their tournament (which began Monday) undefeated, but the team finished in a three-way tie with John Oliver and David Thompson, all with one win and two ties.
The Blue Jags were dropped to third in the head-to-head tiebreaking process between the three schools, due to goals against. SMUS did defeat fellow Island school Highland, of Comox, 3-0 in its Tuesday afternoon game and will play for ninth today.
Kwalikum finished with a 2-1 record and lost 2-0 to Alpha late Tuesday afternoon as both finished second in their pools. Kwalikum will play David Thompson today for seventh.
Mark Isfeld finished with two losses and one tie in Pool B.