The Pleasant Valley Hawks are ready to fly.
The Armstrong secondary school, for the first time in its history, is fielding a junior varsity football program.
“We started last year with a community team of junior bantam-aged players that had no place to go because there’s no bantam program,” said Hawks head coach Rob Ellis, an Armstrong elementary school principal. “This way, we can keep the kids at home.”
A total of 24 kids signed up for the program, which began with late spring practices in June, and resumed again late in August. Ten of the players come from Len Wood Middle School, the rest are Grade 9 and 10 students at Pleasant Valley Secondary.
The team will play its first game on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in Salmon Arm against the Golds (Jackson campus) before playing its home opener Sept. 22, at the PVSS field against the Westsyde Blue Wave of Kamloops. Kick-off will be 4 p.m. The provincial champion A.L. Fortune Secondary Drumline from Enderby will perform at halftime.
“This is huge for Armstrong,” said Ellis. “We’ve got a great parent group that is putting together tailgate parties. We want to make this a big event for our small community.”
The Hawks host the Vernon Panthers Oct. 13, at 3 p.m., and entertain the Rutland Voodoos of Kelowna on Oct. 27, at 2:30 p.m.
PVSS will visit the Fulton Maroons in Vernon on Oct. 6.
Helping Ellis on his coaching staff are former VSS Panthers and Kamloops Broncos (B.C. Junior Football League) defensive coordinator Aaron Chan, former Rutland Voodoos quarterback Jason Baron, former CFL offensive lineman Devin Rodger (now president of Vernon Minor Football), and former Vernon Magnums receiver Mike Jmio, an Armstrong native.
• The Panthers entertain North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers in exhibition play Thursday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. at Greater Vernon Athletic Park (GVAP). The Cats will travel to Maple Ridge Sept. 17, for an exhibition contest against the Terry Fox Ravens.
Vernon opens up its regular season on Sept. 21, at GVAP against Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Huskies. Game time will be 4 p.m.
• The Maroons will kick off their pre-season schedule with a trip to Prince George Saturday, Sept. 10, to play the Kelly Road Roadrunners. Fulton has a bye Sept. 16 before beginning their regular season at home Sept. 22, against the Voodoos at 4 p.m. at Grahame Park.