Despite winning the AA B.C. high school football title last year, Seaquam Seahawks head coach Navin Chand knew the jump into AAA football wouldn’t be easy.
“Every week there is a tough game in AAA football,” said Chand. There are no easy games. Every game these kids are bruised and beat up.”
The demands of football definitely increase as you move up the ranks, but it’s hard for Chand to be disappointed with his team’s result after the conclusion of the regular season.
“It’s been a fun season to date,” said Chand.
The Seaquam Seahawks are 5-2 after a spectacular regular season. They played exceptionally well considering that this was their first year jumping up to the AAA ranks.
“It was definitely a challenge for our group,” Chand said. “Five of our kids represented Team B.C. at the Football Canada Cup this summer. Those kids realized that football is football. It doesn’t matter if it’s triple AAA or double AA, the tactics and the way you play the game is still the same.”
Even though it was their first season in AAA, the Seahawks had a chance to contend for first overall in the division.
One of their two losses came against the unbeaten New Westminster Hyacks, while the other came against Mount Douglas College during the last game of the season. In that game, they had already wrapped up second place in the division and didn’t have much to play for.
“There’s definitely a rivalry there,” said Chand. “It’s sort of a friendly rivalry, but it was still nice to get the win.”
While jumping up a division is no easy task, the Seahawks were led by a group of veteran players who have played together for years.
Two of the stars on the team are the incredibly gifted Philpot twins. Both Jalen and Tyson Philpot played on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The twins excel on both sides of the field.
Defensive back Tyson was named the Western Conference’s defensive player of the year on Monday. Jalen was also named a Western Conference all-star after leading the league in rushing yards.
The irony is that Chand believes they both had a chance at earning recognition on the other side of the ball.
“Even though Jalen received top running back honours, he was the guy on our team that would shut down the other team’s best receiver,” he said.
“He was the Richard Sherman of our team.”
It was an interesting comment to make considering that his brother was named defensive player of the year.
“Because Jalen was so good on defence, people didn’t throw to him,” said Chand. “It allowed Tyson to shine for our team.”
Even though Tyson was an MVP on defence, he was still a major contributor on the offensive side of the ball.
“Tyson would have been a good candidate for offensive player of the year,” said Chand.
While his brother tore up the league with a powerful running game, Tyson led the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a wide margin. He had nine touchdowns and 708 receiving yards. The next closest player only finished with 470 yards.
Despite leading the league in rushing and receiving, their work on the defensive side of the ball is equally as impressive.
“They’re both fearless hitters on the field,” Chand said.
All Stars Needed Ahead of Pivotal Matchup
The Philpots’ weren’t the only players to be named all stars on Monday.
Quarterback Josh Haydu was also named to the Western Conference all-star team after finishing third in the league with 1,125 passing yards in seven games.
Haydu played football locally with North Surrey and North Delta Minor Football. Along with a few other players on the Seahawks, including the Philpots’, Haydu represented Team B.C. at the Football Canada Cup during the summer.
Offensive lineman Cavin Murray was also named an all-star.
“Cavin is part of a core group that has played together for the last five years,” said Chand.
Murray is a stalwart on a strong offensive line for the Seahawks.
“Alltogether we have a real senior line. The other four guys on the line along with Murray do a great job of opening up holes for us,” Chand said.
That line opened up holes for the lone Grade 11 all-star from Seaquam, Khristien ‘Jello’ Juatco.
“He’s had a good year for us,” said Chand. “He’s more of a big, power running back, and he works well with Jalen.”
The Seahawks are going to need all of these weapons for their wild-card matchup on Friday, Nov. 10th against the Handsworth Royals. They finished first in the Pacific Division as the only other unbeaten team in the league aside from New Westminster.
Chand has his eye on a few Handsworth player that they will need to shut down ahead of Sunday’s matchup.
Keelan White, who was the MVP of the Central Division, is tops on the Seahawks radar.
“He’s their main guy we have to watch out for. He led their team in rushing yards and receiving yards.
Receiver Jake Bennett is also a guy to watch for While quarterback Evan Currie averaged the second-most yards per game in B.C. High School AAA football.
The game takes place at Cloverdale Athletic Park on Friday morning at 11:00 a.m.
“We’ve competed in every game this year, so at this point, it’s one week at a time for us,” said Chand.