It was like a party on the sidelines Thursday for the BCI Red Rams football team.
They were excited from the jump, getting more animated and louder with each long run or catch on offence and every sack or broken-up pass by the defence.
They were hollering as loud as ever when they were up 31-0 against the St. Michael Mustangs, the defence clapping and chanting, “Go, Rams, Go” along with the school’s cheerleaders while on the field and waiting for the next play to start.
BCI ended up winning 68-0. At the end of the game, a Red Rams player getting ready to head to the dressing room yelled over to his ride home that he was likely going to be a while because they just had a big win and plenty to celebrate.
The Red Rams scored four passing touchdowns by halftime. A lot of schools across Ontario won’t get that many through the air all season.
Maybe a more important number was the number of people cramming the wooden bleachers and standing along the sidelines to cheer for BCI at Commonwealth Field.
“It’s been the same right from the beginning,” said Holmes about his team’s enthusiasm on the sidelines and on the field after pushing their record to 2-1 this season. “It was a little disheartening when we lost the first game, but we took it as a good learning experience and they just keep going.”
It’s that latter trait – the fact they just keep going – why the Red Rams players have cause to celebrate in the first place.
At other schools it was the teachers making an unsuccessful push to keep football going. At BCI it was the students.
The Red Rams lost its football program when Dawson Kennedy entered Grade 9.
The following year the school managed to revive it. Kennedy played football when he was in grades 10 and 11 and, “It was the most fun program I’ve ever been a part of,” he said.
The BCI football team was essentially on life support before the season started.
The thought of losing the sport again in his final year of high school wasn’t something Kennedy, along with a lot of other students, wanted to see happen.
BCI has an advantage of having a healthy amount of students that played for the Brockville Buccaneers this past spring and those players went around the school recruiting new members for the roster at the beginning of the school year.
“They said we wouldn’t have enough kids to have a team,” said Kennedy. “Then we showed up to the (introduction) meeting with 40 kids. They said we wouldn’t have 20.”
The Red Rams ended up getting their team approved at the last minute before deadline.
There’s a bigger picture to BCI fielding a team, said Holmes. The coach’s hope is that other teams in town take notice. Brockville is at a low-point for youth football with TISS and St. Mary sacking their programs, as well as the Rideau RedBlacks not having a team suit up for fall football in any age division. All those programs were canceled because of a lack of registration numbers.
“I’ve been playing football my whole life and I want to get as many people out to play and enjoy the game as much as I have over the years,” said linebacker Ryan Sands about his motivation to make sure BCI pulled a team together.
The BCI players are the ones who hustled to get this team on the field. They reached out to Holmes. They convinced Jason Rockburne to join the team to meet the requirement of having a teacher-coach. They were the ones at principal Chris Boston’s office everyday.
“Without them we’d be nothing,” said running back Derek Pryer, proving he’s a good teammate by crediting the people not on the roster for doing just as much to keep the BCI program alive.
Red Rams football is under a microscope, said Holmes. The football team was pulled together in the final hour and outsiders are watching what they do and seeing if they can be successful.
“I think we’ve done all the right steps to move it forward that way,” said Holmes
The fact the Red Rams are fielding a team this season at all is an accomplishment, added Pryer. Add winning a few games to the mix and they’re having themselves a party.
“It’s a tradition around here. Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to come out and watch us play,” said Pryer. “It’s important.”