Come fall, the Howe Sound Hitmen will be in full gear for the regular football season.
For now, though, they have been tuning up with another flag football season against North Shore foe.
“It’s been a good season so far,” said coach Troy Wilton.
That’s an understatement, as far as the bantam players are concerned. They wrapped up a perfect 6-0 season this past weekend. They beat the Texans 42-6 on Saturday. Reniel Belandres led the way with three touchdowns, three interceptions, including two for touchdowns, and two sacks. Kolby Wilton added a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
June Hyuk and Bryce Beddington also added touchdowns, Jack Harris had a two-point conversion and McKinley Wood added a two-point convert and a sack on defence.
The win followed the previous week’s 48-6 win over the Seahawks in which Wilton, Hyuk, Belandres, Josh Lee and game MVP Josh del Cerna each scored touchdowns.
For the juniors, the season has not gone as well, as the team has not had as much commitment in terms of getting the numbers of players for practices.
On Saturday, they finished the season 1-5 after losing a hard-fought game in overtime 21-20 to the Chargers. Jhett Verner score two touchdowns, Damien Joseph had another while Matt Seamans added a two-point conversion. The previous week, they lost another close one, losing 7-6 to the Steelers, with Seamans tallying the one touchdown for the team. They did win big, however, over the Colts 46-6, with Seamans, Verner, Joseph and Jackson Gordon scoring touchdowns.
As preparation for games, the two teams practise on Mondays and Wednesdays, while on Fridays the players take to the field at Howe Sound Secondary for scrimmages, with the younger bantams, the Ravens, squaring off against the older players, the Rams.
Wilton said when the Hitmen program got going a few years ago, the team suffered through some brutal early campaigns, but more recently the team has been much more competitive, which starts with the fundamentals.
“The big thing we taught the kids is to hit hard, hit often,” he said.
Last year, the team went .500 in the tackle season. Part of the upturn is because the season never really ends, with the exception of a short break between the end of flag season and preparation for the fall’s full contact season and a longer one during the holidays.
The flag season helps keep the players sharp, and this spring the younger bantam side has had little trouble carving up its opposition, with the top receiver in Kolby Wilton, top running back in Josh Lee and top quarterback in Reniel Belandres, who leads the league with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. “Reniel is our star,” the coach said.