Another high school football season has begun and for the SRSS Sabres it's without their Junior Varsity team, as all the players will now be together on just one team, the Varsity team.
Jamie Peters is the Varsity Defensive Coordinator for the SRSS Sabres and oversees the entire program.
When it comes to needing to fold the JV Team, Peters says,
"We had to unfortunately make a very tough decision in terms of what was best for the program and all the players within it. We just didn't have the numbers across both teams that we're willing to make the commitment and the dedication needed to have some success.”
Before the merge, the Varsity team had 24 players, four of which were JV players that were playing up with the Varsity team.
The JV team had a decent number of players as well, but Peters says it was best to pull everybody up with the new division alignment having bigger teams.
He says that in Division 1 with 22 schools, it gives everybody an opportunity to get some playing time.
“One of the really big benefits is it really helps with our practices. We're able to push our players harder and hold players more accountable and recreate the culture that we had before COVID, so we're looking forward to that.”
Peters also mentions one of the downsides.
“We have some Grade 9 players and some unexperienced players that it might be more of a learning year for them, and that means that they may not be able to dress for some of our games because they are not at the proper level of experience.”
Some of their players decided to go play for the Eastman Raiders this year, which Peters says is another great opportunity for them.
“If kids are playing football, that's all we can really ask for and that's a great thing.”
The coaches hope it’s just a temporary thing, as they are looking to rebuild back to JV football next year.
“Because it is a program developer and we need to find a place where our kids can all play at a suitable level.”
When it comes to coaching staff, Peters says the JV coaches are now helping coach the Varsity team as well.
"That's another positive. Often when we run two teams, our coaching staff has spread a little bit thin as we're trying to balance between two different programs."
He says the team practices three times for every game they have.
“These players are getting lots of reps and they're getting better quality of reps. If you're playing on one side of the ball, you get 50 snaps in a game, they're getting that in every practice," he says. "So there still are lots of reps for everybody to learn and to grow through, and we're hoping that people can see the bigger picture about the development of our players on the sport.”
Peters notes that having only one football team is familiar to the school.
"This is what our program looked like in 2014, 2015, before we launched a full JV team. We would carry 50 to 60 players and one team before we were able to get the numbers to split into two.”
He says to run two teams effectively, they need 65+ kids showing up to all of their practices.
“The number of kids that decided that practicing wasn't their main commitment, and they weren't showing up, then that means it's harder for us to actually commit to two teams,” he says. “So everyone has some responsibilities and we're just looking at rebuilding that accountability, that dedication, that commitment to what Sabres football represents."
The next SRSS Sabres Varsity game is on Thursday, September 14. Kick-off is at 5:00pm at A.D. Penner Park.
With files from Adi Loewen
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