Hyacks duo ready to take leadership role

Sit a few minutes and listen to Payton Myers and Greyson Planisic talk, and you can tell they have their own vernacular.

It’s an easy-going jostle that comes with being best pals.

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Whether it’s talking about football or school, Myers and Planisic are often in sync – just as they are with their tousled haircuts.

“We do,” Planinsic said laughingly of sharing the same barber. “We’re best buds.”

“We’re so close outside of football, too,” added Myers. “We were just thrown in the same fire.”

At first rivals for the quarterback position with the Royal City junior bantam football team, now they are key cogs in this year’s New Westminster Hyacks senior varsity program, as it looks to make it three straight B.C. Subway Bowl final appearances.

As part of a deep lineup, with a lot of returning players on both sides of the ball, Myers and Planinsic want to be part of keeping the tradition strong.

 

Returning core

Head coach Farhan Lalji likes the look of his returning core, with nearly the full secondary team intact and more experienced after last December’s 48-24 loss to Mount Douglas in the B.C. final.

“Last year was a really, really valuable experience at a number of levels,” said Lalji. “You play a number of big games at the end to get into the final, which is nice. But also having a bit of adversity during the season then fighting back from it and going on a run. Just to know that is always valuable.”

Myers is tasked with taking over from Kinsale Philip, who held the pivot’s role the past two seasons, including guiding them to a provincial title in 2017.

Planinsic, meanwhile, lines up at running back and taking the torch from Broxx Comia, another alum who is making the move to university ball.

Settling into their new responsibilities, as veterans with bigger responsibilities, suits the two New West boys.

“We kind of got the taste of it two years in a row,” remarked Myers. “Winning it, and almost winning it (last year). Guys like us, the seniors, are in the best position, like (Planinsic) and the (Garcha) twins have been there twice. We’re in the best position to get us there, we know what it’s like, what a winning season looks like. Just being able to translate that to this year, take what we’ve learned and apply it to this team, is really what we have to do.”

 

New journey

Each team, however, has its own journey to take. The Hyacks in 2017 roared out of the gate and went undefeated, enjoying some solid stretches of good health along the way. Last year, the obstacles mostly came in the form of injuries, which opened the door for the young guns to get their feet wet.

As Grade 10s finding their way with a senior-laden lineup en route to the B.C. title, Myers and Planinsic watched, listened and learned. Last year, they were immersed as Grade 11s and received their share of playing time after both Philip and Comia were sidelined by injury.

In Myers’ first start for the senior squad, he found himself in an ‘OK Corral’-style shootout, which ended up as a high scoring loss to Notre Dame. Planinsic scampered for 194 yards on 15 carries, setting a school record with five touchdowns.

Already getting regular time as a defensive back, the shifty Planinsic gladly took his turn on offence and ate it up.

“Broxx is fast, and he’s shifty and he’s really hard to tackle. I’d say I’m pretty hard to tackle, not even from playing but from my film. I’m not that fast but I’m quite shifty,” he noted, comparing styles.

 

Adversaries to friends

Having played the game since atom, Planinsic first met Myers when the latter joined the junior bantam team and was put in competition for the quarterback role. The two practised together, vying for the starting role, and despite the adversary position, a friendship grew.

“We’d kind of talk trash to each other, get on each other’s nerves but it never got heated,” grinned Planinsic.

“My second year thrown into football but also at quarterback was kind of crazy. We could relate,” added Myers.

The Hyacks offence now will benefit from that chemistry and keen competitive drive.

“I’m really a competitive person and I just love to be competitive,” noted Planinsic. “I like surrounding myself with competitive people because it helps me get better.”

“It’s the team part and the competitiveness of it,” Myers said of being quarterback. “The discipline of it. Getting your homework done, studying – it’s all the same thing. It’s like studying your playbook, watching your film.”

 

Taking on Tweedsmuir

When the real games start, the focus will be on a lot of positions and players as No. 4-rated New West looks to remain among the elite programs in B.C. Starting against No. 3-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir on Sept. 6 at home – a team they beat in the quarterfinals last fall – is a nice reminder that nothing is going to come easy.

“That will be a good battle because they are one of the favourites,” remarked Lalji. “They are a team that won the junior title two years ago, so they have a lot of good players and a lot of depth. They’ve lost a few good ones, too, but it will be a really, really good test of the two top ranked teams in the beginning of the year.”

The quarterback and running back are chomping at the chance to put it on the field.

“Our passing game in general is a smooth thing. It’s a lot of quick game and a lot of running the ball as quarterback, that dual threat. Kind of fake to Greyson and then just take it the other way. That’s always fun,” said Myers.

“I think the one thing we really need to do work on is get the younger guys involved. Just play selflessly and make sure you’re not only trying to get better but you’re trying to get everyone better, too,” said Planinsic. “We’ve got a lot of athletes on this team, a lot of athletes. We’ll be tough to beat.”

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