Sardis Falcons target 2018 for football resurrection

Former GW Graham head coach Adam Smith will guide Sardis into the B.C. High School Football ranks next fall.

Rick Klassen played for Sardis secondary school before going on to a hugely successful Canadian Football League career. Klassen’s legacy will be honoured as the school re-launches its football program in the fall of 2018.

It’s been on Brad Geary’s mind for a long time to bring high school football back to Sardis secondary school.

Sardis last had a program in the early 1980’s, in the heyday of Rick Klassen, and it was the passing of the legendardy star in early December that made Geary feel the time is right for a Falcon football resurrection.

“Rick was the greatest multi-sport athlete to come through this school, the greatest to pull a Falcon jersey over his head,” said Geary, who’s held the post of Sardis athletic director the last three years. “I’ve had re-starting the football program on my to-do list and when Rick passed away I thought, ‘This is the year to see if we can pull it together.’”

Geary had only to walk down the hall in search of a potential head coach.

Adam Smith has been on staff as a Sardis teacher for three years. At the same time, he’s played a key role building a football powerhouse at GW Graham, helping guide two Grizzly teams to provincial titles.

“Working at one school and coaching at another is fairly unusual in educational circles, and there was going to come a time when Adam came into our fold,” Geary said. “I approached him in early January and we quietly started the application process.

“We were given tentative approval at a B.C. High School Football meeting Mar. 27.”

Final approval should come at a BCHSF board meeting Apr. 26 and Geary and Smith are certain the Falcons will fly in the fall of 2018.

The team will host home dates at the school and Smith would also like to play Friday night games under the lights at Exhibition Stadium.

Before then, there’s a ton to do and time will fly by in the blink of an eye.

“One of the biggest steps that we’ve started already is, there is a huge group of alumni who were on the Sardis teams between 1972 and 1982, and we want to tap into that alumni base,” Geary said. “We are looking for a couple people to step forward because we want a group of alumni outside of the school who are going to help us raise money and support the team.

“There is work ahead and we are going to rely on all the resources we have within the Falcon football community to make this launch as successful as possible.”

It’s not the best time in history to launch a football program.

No sport has been hit harder by concussion concerns, with community and high school teams across Canada and the United States struggling to maintain their numbers.

As good as GW Graham’s program has been since its 2012 inception, even its enrollment has been shrinking year to year.

There are legit concerns about Chilliwack’s ability to support two high school squads.

“With Grade 9 kids in this school soon and the population going up to 1,300-plus kids, I don’t think we’re going to have a problem servicing a team,” Smith countered confidently. “The buzz already from a letter that we sent out is huge.”

Smith believes he’ll have one massive advantage he didn’t have at GW Graham.

His Grizzly coaching staff was loaded with volunteers from the community, dedicated men who put in tireless work outside of school hours but weren’t in the building during the day.

Smith believes there were GWG students who never signed up because there were no in-house coaches to give them a nudge.

“When I coached in Manitoba we had seven staff members in the school and we used to have an assembly at the start of the year,” Smith said. “There were two ways into the gym and the same two ways out of the gym and we’d be at those doors and we’d get in their ear.

“We have people at Sardis who’ve expressed interest in coaching, and if we have a half dozen people on staff who are also involved with football, they’ll be in the school every day with these kids creating relationships.”

Smith resigned his post as GW Graham head coach last week and had to tell his Grizzly players he was leaving.

“There were tears because I love those kids and they’re my family, and even though I’m coaching at Sardis that brotherhood is still going to be there,” he said. “Whether it’s five, 10, 15 years or more that’s always going to be there.

“I’m sad to go, but I’m not leaving the kids.

“I’m still there for them and always will be there for them. They’re part of my family forever.”

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