Photo by Don Fennell
Football is more than just a game at Richmond’s Hugh Boyd Secondary. To many, it’s part of the school’s identity.
“Our kids are very proud of that fact,” says Bill Haddow, the longtime coach of Richmond’s only high school gridiron team.
On the eve of the Trojans’ 2017 season-opener Friday, Sept. 8 versus North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals (7 p.m. kick off at Hugh Boyd Park), Haddow continues to advance that mindset. Wanting to uphold the tradition that Hugh Boyd is tough to play against, he encourages the players to always be proud to wear the black and gold and put their best foot forward for their school. Further, he applauds the commitment and sacrifices needed to be a player.
“Football is a sport that attracts kids that don’t fit into other sports,” he says, describing the game as the ultimate team game. “It forces (players) to push through tough circumstances and to challenge themselves to fight through things when it is difficult. These are skills important in life. All parts and positions have to work together to ensure success.”
While football has long been one of the most popular high school sports, increasing fears and confusion surrounding concussions have led to changes from within. Haddow sees the changes as being positive.
“It’s all about awareness and not hiding from the issues,” he says. “Football is being very proactive on the concussion issue. The (Seattle) Seahawks are leading in this regard with their commitment to a different form of tackling, where the head is right out of the way and the attack point is the legs and the wrapping of the them. They practice tackling without helmets to ensure the head is not used in the tackle.”
The Trojans have followed suit.
Calling it an alligator or gator tackle, where the legs are secured and the tackler rolls over as a gator does with its prey, as the ball carrier goes to the ground.
“When tackling, we really emphasize the head being to the side,” Haddow stresses.
Coming off a five-win, one-loss season in 2016, which included a 21-7 loss to the Vernon Panthers in the provincial semifinals, the Trojans enter the 2017 campaign minus a core of six, three-year starters. Their presence will definitely be missed, but Haddow says “we expect kids to step up and take their places.”
“Whether they can, and will do so to their level, will be determined at the end of the season. But every year good players graduate and we expect younger players to step up and do the best they can.”
Seeing football as the ultimate team game, Haddow refuses to single out any players. He says individuals will get their due week by week as they perform.