A remarkable coaching era is winding down at Hugh Boyd Secondary School.
After over 80 years of combined volunteer work, Bill and Bruce Haddow are getting set to say goodbye to the Trojans football program.
Bill is in his final year of teaching at Boyd. He plans on doing some TOC work closer to his White Rock home next year and spend more time with his steadily growing craft brew business — White Rock Beach Beer. He has been coaching football for the past 42 years.
Bruce also teaches at Boyd and the lifelong Richmond resident is set to retire in December 2018. This will be his 40th season involved in the gridiron game.
Their tireless work has ensured the high school football tradition lives on in their hometown despite the city’s immense change in demographics the past 25 years. While programs at Richmond, Steveston and Palmer eventually had to fold, the Trojans pressed on as the Haddows adapted to the ever-changing environment.
The school no longer has a junior team. Instead, a deal was reached with the Richmond Raiders community program a year ago. Kids will play there up until Grade 10 then are encouraged to continue their careers at Boyd. The Trojans still run a Grade 8 spring program that helps introduce interested students to the game.
Boyd will kickoff the 2017 season Friday at 7 p.m. when North Vancouver’s Handsworth Royals come to town.
The team will have a roster of close to 25 players and the Haddows have a stable of young coaches working with them, including Boyd staff members Bryce Miller and Brock Aura. Bruce’s son Kyle — a former Trojan standout — is following in his dad’s footsteps by working as an assistant.
Even with the program in reasonably good shape, there is always the concern about its future.
Currently, player numbers are down at the high school and community levels in many regions across the province for a variety of reasons, with concussion awareness being among them.
“Word has to get out there that it is way way different now,” said Bruce. “We rarely have contact in practice. It’s just about skill development and fundamentals. We are not banging the crap out of these kids. You can’t with numbers like this.
“(This program) has got to keep going and that is my concern. Our numbers actually look pretty good compared a lot of other ‘AA’ size teams. Ten to 15 years ago, schools couldn’t wait to start a football program. Now, some have folded and others are in trouble. There have been lean years but you could always see it will improve. This is a different animal entirely (for B.C. football). What exactly is behind the current trend is the million dollar question.”
As for on the field, the Trojans are coming off a season that saw them reach the provincial semi-finals before falling to Vernon at B.C. Place last November. A number of key players have graduated but that doesn’t mean Boyd won’t be very competitive again.
They have some excellent weapons in the skill positions including senior running back Reace Mok, receiver Shakur Lopez and speedster Zach Jackson. Getting them the ball will be promising Grade 10 quarterback Byron Ruvalcaba.
The defence will get a huge lift with the return of Ryan Jensen. The senior linebacker missed the entire 2016 season while his dad (McMath’s Rod Jensen) did a teacher exchange in Australia. The younger Jensen will have the attention of university scouts.
“He is going to play inside linebacker for us and it’s been a while since we have had an athlete with this kind of size that is aggressive, big and edgy,” said Bill. “He is going to take care of business for us and that’s good for our defence. He is also a great kid.
“On offence we definitely want to move the ball around a bit with some really talented kids. We don’t have a lot of depth but that’s common these days. There needs to be some luck involved too and that’s staying healthy.
As far as savouring his final season, Bill says there will be times that he will step back and soak in the environment that has been a huge part of his life.
“Now, I’m going to get all teary eyed,” Bill laughed. “There will be some extra moments in practice where I’m just going to watch it all go down.
“I can definitely see myself staying involved and being a part-time position coach a couple of days a week closer to home. But it won’t be here.”