The last meaningful snaps Josh Janssen played before leading the Valley Huskers into their Sept. 4 opener against the Okanagan Sun was a high school game for the Sardis Falcons, in 2019.
No surprise the young quarterback struggled in his ‘welcome to the BC Football Conference’ moment. But week two was an encouraging step forward for the 19-year-old, who led his Huskers to their first win of the 2021 season Saturday night (Sept. 11) at Chilliwack’s Exhibition Stadium.
The numbers weren’t eye-popping. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 111 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception, but he got the job done in a 36-15 home field triumph.
The Huskers offensive line kept him safe, yielding just one quarterback sack, allowing Janssen to do what he does best.
“I like sitting in the pocket, making my reads and getting the ball out quick,” he said. “As long as I have enough time to get it out, it’s all good.”
Back in training camp, Janssen acknowledged the BCFC is “much faster” than the high school level. Foes are bigger and stronger, as he discovered staring down the massive Okanagan Sun defensive line.
“But between my last high school game and now I put on about 25 pounds,” said Janssen, who is a tall one at six-foot-six. “That makes a big difference letting me throw the ball further and faster.”
The complexity of the game has been a huge step up as well.
“Sardis was a second-year program with a lot of new players when I was in my senior year, so they kept things pretty simple,” Janssen said. “The offensive playbook here is definitely more complicated, but I like more complicated.
“The defensive complexity goes up too. I’m going to see ‘combo’ coverages, where it’s zone on one side and man on the other. That’s something I never saw in high school, but I’m getting familiar with it going up against our defense in practice. There’s a learning curve with anything new, but I know I’ll be a way better football player than I was at the start.”
Reading defenses quicker is still something he feels he needs to work on, and that should improve the more he plays. Athletes often talk about the game slowing down for them. If that happens for Janssen, he has all the tools to be a BCFC star, and having a homegrown quarterback leading the charge would be great for the Huskers.
“I’ve been in Chilliwack my whole life, and I started with the Chilliwack (Minor Football) Giants before Sardis,” Janssen said. “I was thinking of going somewhere else, but when (Huskers head coach) Bob (Reist) reached out to tell me about this program and what he wants to do with this team, I was convinced to stay.
“My main goal here is to win football games. I don’t play to lose. All of us here want to win and that’s what we plan on doing.”