BMF peewee Bucks putting N.B. on the football map

By Nathan Kanter
October 10, 2017 - 2:00pm

Battlefords Minor Football is all about progression.

Formed in 2011, it provides young kids with an opportunity to play flag and then tackle football, and focuses on the development of fundemental skills.

"Everything that we teach the kids, right from the flag league where this is no contact, is the same stuff that we're doing when we do get to the full contact," BMF Bucks peewee head coach Paul Fransoo said. "It's about good body mechanics, proper stance and take-off. Little things executed will make a big difference, especially as you grow through the sport.

"We've seen kids come out there that have never thrown or caught a ball and inside of three years, they're superstars in these little leagues."

Since 2015, BMF has competed in the Kinsmen Saskatoon Football League, at first with both a bantam and peewee team, and this year, with just a peewee team. This way, the skills that the kids learn can be applied in real-game situations.

Year one was rough for the peewee Bucks, who did not win a game. Year two was much better, and now, with 14 returning players from last year, the Bucks are flying in year three.

After last week's 30-0 win over the Prince Albert River Riders, they lead the peewee division with a 5-1 record.

"We have some strong players that have returned on both sides of the ball and that has allowed us to have a really solid offence and a strong defence," Fransoo said. "The best comment would be we are very well-balanced this year. We're not a one-sided team, as far as really strong offence and no defence. And we see that in some teams we've played.

"Our defence keeps the other team at bay. Got to give those boys credit, they're a group of little monsters out there. That ball starts to come out of the pocket and our linebackers are hungry. They just want to swallow that up."

The peewee Bucks lead the league in points scored with 146, and they have the third-least points against, with 45 in six games.

Those stats may be impressive, but even more important than the numbers is focusing on skill development, and also doing it in a safe environment.

"All of our coaches are certified in the safe contact courses that Football Canada requires of us...Knowing those little things about body position and where to be and how to break down, make it easy for us to transfer into this safe contact process," Fransoo said. "We do a lot with the footwork and the stance and the take off. So defence has to read and react. Every time is a surprise to a degree for them. And to be 11 and 12-years-old and be able to pick up on that is a big thing. And again, it comes from that progression. We start them with that down in the flag league."

The Bucks are also dealing with a rule change, along with every other team in the league.

Last year, it was 12-man football. This year, Football Canada mandated that it change to nine-man, partly because of safety (less bodies on the field at once), and partly because they wanted those players on the field to be involved more, according to Fransoo.

"With fewer guys on the field, you take out three players, now you've got more consistency to the players that are on the field...we can see it," he said. "We've used more of our offence than we did before. It's not just a body taking up a space. It's not just a guy that's going to block. He's out there and doing his job and getting his hands on the ball. So it's a building of the skills in gameplay."

The Bucks program also makes sure they do a team building event every year.

This season, the peewee team went down to Regina to have a couple practices and check out the clubhouse of the Canadian Junior Football League's Regina Thunder. They also practiced with the younger Regina Thunderbirds.

Fransoo said BMF president Mike Humenny should be given a lot of credit for the success of the BMF program in recent years.

"He's really put some pieces together here for North Battleford to show up on the map again as a football town rather than just hockey," Fransoo said.

The Bucks have two games remaining in the regular season. They'll play at Crusader Field on Sunday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. and then wrap up with another Sunday game on Oct. 22 on the road against the Holt Bulldogs.

The playoff picture is a little fuzzy at the moment, but Fransoo said the standard set-up is the top four qualify. That way, the top seed plays the fourth in one semifinal and the second seed plays the third seed.

"Right now, if we can do well in our next two regualr season games here, we might finish top of the league," Fransoo said. "It just depends. There's a lot that can happen...but we believe that we're going to be in that top four set up for sure and we'll be off to the semis and hopefully to a final."

 

nathan.kanter@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @NathanKanter11

 

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