B.C. high school football’s top grads take new roles, help UBC in quest to reach Vanier Cup

VANCOUVER — The Subway Bowl playoffs are invading B.C. Place Stadium, with five provincial high school football quarterfinal-round games on tap, and if you make the trip out, you’re going to see some of the province’s most exciting young talent on display. Yet no matter how effective some of those players have proven themselves to be, their call to duty at the next level of university football isn’t necessarily going to come at the positions in which they have starred at in high school. That’s a familiar storyline for three key members of the UBC Thunderbirds, who at the same time Saturday will be 6,200 kilometres due east, trying to win the Uteck Bowl and qualify for the 2015 Vanier Cup.

Here are their stories:

DOMINIQUE TERMANSEN For much of his high school career at North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Secondary, the 5-foot-11 Termansen was a basketball star for the Eagles, and to this day, he wears Michael Jordan’s No. 23. When it came to football, Termansen was a receiver, a kid who totalled 941 yards in receptions with 12 touchdowns over his two senior varsity seasons, catches which came with a whopping 24 yards-per-catch average. These days, he’s morphed into a fourth-year cornerback, whose prime job is to cover the No. 1 receiver on the opposition. “I wouldn’t say corner was a big position for me in high school,” Termansen says with a laugh. “Until the 12th grade, I was more of a basketball player, so coming to UBC and starting out wearing a black (defensive) jersey in practice was a big adjustment. My hips were pretty sore for a while. But I’ve loved the transition because I know now that this is the best position for me.” UBC defensive coordinator James Colzie III adds: “He’s learned under fire, and our boundary corner spot is one of the most important on our defence. He’s done well, and as you can see, we’re still playing.” Says Termansen, who finished sixth on the team with 36 tackles in the regular season: “In high school, the best athletes play the positions that get the ball the most. But when you get to college, everyone is a good athlete. You have to adapt.”

KEVIN WIENS As the quarterback of the Mission Roadrunners, Wiens was one of the most dangerous running pivots our province has seen. Over two seasons (2011-12), he ran and passed for a total of 4,197 yards and 64 TDs in 24 games. But now, with UBC, he has put that athleticism to use on the other side of the ball, protecting the team’s back-end as a book-end cornerback to Termansen. “We’ve asked Kevin to do so many different things this season, and all he has done is adapt and excel,” says Colzie of the 6-foot-1 Wiens, who no doubt impressed his new head coach Blake Nill when he made two interceptions in the team’s first game of the season, a 41-16 shocker over national powerhouse Laval in Quebec City back on August 29. “The biggest thing with him is that he’s a very cerebral kid.” And if Wiens opened the campaign with the bang, he concluded the Canada West portion of UBC’s schedule the same way. With the No. 1-ranked Calgary Dinos still threatening to weave their brand of comeback magic late in Saturday’s Hardy Cup, Wiens first stripped the ball from Dinos’ Brett Blazsko and recovered it with 38 seconds remaining to seal a 34-26 win. “Coach always says ‘Don’t wait for someone else to make the play, make it yourself,” said Wiens.

BEN CUMMINGS As the star of Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Timberwolves, Ben Cummings was the tailback all of B.C. Double A football couldn’t stop.’ Over his final two high school seasons (2012-13), Cummings rushed for 2,898 yards and 32 touchdowns. Yet by the time he got to UBC, plans were afoot to convert the 5-foot-9 fireplug into a receiver. This season, under Nill, the transformation was completed. Working hard just to get live reps, and then to become a target of quarterback Michael O’Connor, Cummings has shown that his hands, his grit and his speed all belong in the pass-catching cadre of a national title-contending receiving core. “Ben is one of those guys bordering on the cusp of being a high-end guy,” said Nill. “We just have to get the ball in his hands because he is powerful and dangerous.” The Cummings’ highlight reel leads with his 89-yard TD catch from O’Connor in a win at Saskatchewan in which he simply left defenders in the dust, hitting a second gear as he pulled away down the sidelines. “When you are on a team with so much talent, every day that you come to practice, you have to be at your best,” said Cummings, who has 12 catches for 227 yards and three scores this season. “You have to execute every day. When you are part of a group like that, it’s something that can push you to a new level.”

(Photos: Rich Lam, UBC)

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