Recruiting trail heads north

Chilliwack Huskers head coach Luke Acheson’s off-season recruiting schedule takes him north in one week’s time for the annual Northern Football Combine.

Held in Prince George since 2008, the event gives Acheson a closer look at some northern boys who could play a big role on the 2011 Huskers.

Last year, Chilliwack running back coach Rob McGruder unearthed a handful of gems at the combine.

The 2010 Huskers roster included nine Prince George kids; Shane Adams, Andy Bolen, Sean Doyle, Ryan Gallo, Cory Rollings, Trevor Selig, Adam Vickers, Brandon Vickers and Nick Wingfield.

“Prior to last year, we didn’t have any PG kids,” Acheson noted. “One of the goals heading into last year was to re-build some bridges, and we did a great job of attracting some of their better athletes. We hope to do the same again this year.”

Prince George doesn’t immediately spring to mind when discussing football hotbeds.

But Acheson said the secret is out and more and more talent evaluators are making tracks to the combine to see what the community and surrounding area has to offer.

“It hasn’t always been regarded that way, but they’re doing a great job developing football players,” he said. “The coaches are getting better and the players coming out are more knowledgeable each year. It used to be the final frontier, but you look at the list of coaches going up there now and you’ll see representatives from every junior team plus a bunch of Western Canadian university teams.”

Approximately 80 players had registered for the camp as of Feb. 10, and not just locals. Individuals from throughout B.C. and Alberta have expressed an interest, including players from Grande Prairie, Hinton, Nanaimo and Mission.

The cost to register is $235, a price tag which covers pants, socks, a practice jersey, camp T-shirt and a camp photo. Organizer Ryan Bellamy said they’re willing to register players until the start of camp, and will help out players who require financial support to enter.

“We can always work something out but the point of the camp is to see kids play,” said Bellamy, the president of the Prince George Minor Football Association.

The camp will feature a junior varsity group for players in Grades 7-9 and varsity group for players in Grades 10-12. It’s drawn close to 100 players each year, and Bellamy’s goal is to exceed triple digits.

“We’re getting the final touches on confirming coaches and stuff like that. It’s looking really positive,” he said.

More information on the combine is available through the PGMFA website at www.pgmfa.com.

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