Football season is in full swing at Elmira District Secondary School, with the senior team off to a 2-0 start, and the juniors sitting at 1-1.
Senior team coach Steve Karn says the team is hoping to better their quarter-final finish from last year, and the way things are going, the team is in the running.
“We have a very strong team this year. We’re pretty strong. We have 11 starters that are fifth year. That helps a lot, they have the experience. We usually don’t have that many, but this year, we have a bunch of them,” he said ahead of Thursday’s game against Preston, adding that there are only a couple of things the players are working on right now. “We have a very strong defense, so it is about going over proper technique, schemes with the defense. Offensively, we have all the pieces, it is just about putting them all together.”
For Karn, it is all about minimizing mistakes, while encouraging the other team to make them.
“Number one is to keep them healthy, but overall, we are working plays over and over and over again. Back to the basics,” he said. “The team with the fewest mistakes wins.”
Last year’s team ended the season with three wins and three losses, and the team is hoping to improve on that. They are already off to a decent start, playing undefeated in their first two games. The Preston team was in the finals last year, but this year, they haven’t won a game yet. Karn is optimistic.
“That is just how things go. If we can get them this week and get off to a 3-0 start, I think our two games after that are against similar teams, so there is the potential to do extremely well. We’ll be there in the thick of it,” he said.
The Grade 9 and 10 players on the junior boys’ team and their head coach, Dave Munroe, are also looking to do better than last year. The team made it to the semi finals last year, only to be beat out by Preston. Munroe says they can do it.
“We have a lot of Grade 10s this year. I think it is around 70 per cent Grade 10 players. When you have an older team, traditionally it is a bit of a better team, too,” he said.
The team has lost one game this year, against Bluevale Collegiate Institute in Waterloo, but Monroe wasn’t surprised.
“They are a very good team. They had one guy who was just a monster, but we are hoping to win out. That is the goal,” he said, mentioning the game against Preston today (Thursday). “They are a really good team, but they are actually 0-2 this year. We are going to go down there and we are hoping to win. They beat us out in the semis last year, and the guys that did play last year want to win badly.”
The team practices at least three times a week and with a younger team full of newcomers to the sport, Munroe says coaching staff are starting with the basics.
“It is a lot of heads up tackling, safe tackling and with the offense, it is about getting them to know the formations and a lot of basics. At the senior level, they know that stuff already, but in junior, it is about tackling and blocking.”
Both teams are heading to Preston this afternoon to play their third game of the season, marking the halfway point before the postseason begins.