Local football player makes provincial team

Jeremy Stewart makes B.C. gridiron squad that will face Alberta's best in an inter-provincial game in May.

A Mount Baker Secondary School football player has made a B.C. squad that will face off against their Albertan counterparts for an inter-provincial game in Kelowna in May.

Jeremy Stewart, a Grade 11 athlete, who played as the high school quarterback last season, made the cut at a recent camp in Kelowna, and will join a team made up of 90 players to face a team made up of stars from Alberta.

Stewart, a natural wide-receiver who played quarterback with the Wild last year, went down to Kelowna with three other MBSS teammates in March to give it his best shot at the camp, and ended up earning a spot on the roster.

“I was actually pretty nervous,” said Stewart. “I didn’t think it was going to go through, but it did and after that, I got an invite to another All-Star game in Seattle, and another camp in Seattle.”

The camp in Seattle is the Football University, an invitation-only event for serious football players that want to push their abilities to a higher level.

Kelowna’s tryout had 50 players trying out for the squad, while Vancouver had another tryout that featured roughly 100 athletes.

Stewart has been playing the sport since he was in Grade 8, starting with the Rocky Mountain Rams for two years playing in a few different roles.

His family moved to Kelowna, where he played wide-receiver with the Kelowna Secondary School Owls, before relocating back to Cranbrook.

“Going there was a huge change, just coming from Cranbrook where football isn’t big at all to the Okanagan, where it’s quite a bit bigger,” said Stewart.

He joined up with the Wild football team last year, intending to play as a receiver, but head coach Steve Lightfoot had other ideas.

Stewart said he was running a drill as a receiver and threw the ball back to the quarterback, which got Lightfoot’s attention, and he decided to approach Stewart about playing a new role.

“He matured a lot last year in that position,” said Lightfoot. “I think it was his first year as a quarterback and there are some growing pains whenever you try something new, but by the end of the season, he was calling the plays in the huddle more than I was calling from the sidelines.”

The Wild football program has grown over the years, but numbers have still been a little shy of what Lightfoot and his coaching counterparts would like to see, which is one of the reasons Stewart ended up in the QB spot.

However, Stewart still prefers to play wide-receiver, and his skill at the position is apparent to Lightfoot.

“He’s a natural wide-receiver,” Lightfoot said. “He’s tall, he’s fast, he can catch the ball. He’s not scared to hit. He has those characteristics.”