Coach Todd Andrew is playing down the chances of the North Park Park Collegiate Trojans defending their Brant County high school senior football championship.
“Obviously, a championship is the goal but I don’t look at ourselves as favourites,” said Andrew, whose team will take to the field on Thursday along with the other five schools as the 2019 senior season gets underway.
“I just express to the kids we have the ability to compete again for a championship. The talent is here but we need a lot of things to fall into place.
“If they do that, there’s an opportunity to be successful.”
Last season was a huge success for North Park.
While the senior team was capturing its championship, the junior squad also won. It is believed to be the first time the school has owned both junior and senior championships at the same time.
In last year’s senior final, North Park needed overtime for superstar running back Dan Bosett to become the hero by scoring the championship-clinching touchdown.
But Bosett and others, including quarterback Ethan Andrew, Todd’s son, are gone.
“When you lose kids like that, they’re always difficult to replace,” the coach said.
Luckily for Trojans fans, Andrew is confident with what is waiting in the wings.
Running back Matt Clarke played a big role on the team a year ago but look for him to explode this season.
Also on offence, Marrio Allen will be counted on to make some big catches from quarterback Dantae Bisson. Bisson is one of several junior graduates who will be starting for the senior team this season.
“We’re highly optimistic,” Andrew said.
“We’re bringing together returning kids from our senior championship team last year and then obviously bringing up a bunch of kids who are coming up from our junior championship team.
“It’s nice to be on the football field with so many kids who know what it’s like to compete and win a championship.”
On the defensive side of the ball, NPC’s leaders will include linebackers Bobby Hardwick and Noah Andrew, another of the coach’s sons, as well as linemen Will Nurse and Keegan Runge.
Andrew said about 35 players attended a training camp before the start of school. That number jumped to 45 once classes resumed.
The coach said the team’s offence and defence are “pretty balanced.
“That’s the luxury of having a a good handful of returning kids and a good crop of juniors coming up,” he said.
“We don’t really have too many areas of concern as it relates to having kids in spots without playing experience.”
The Trojans open the season against a St. John’s College team that went 2-3 a year ago. Despite what looks like a mismatch on paper, Andrew isn’t looking past the Green Eagles.
“St. John’s is always prepared and they always have a good crop of athletes over there,” he said. “I expect a competitive game.”
As for the entire league, Andrew said he expects almost every team to have a chance of success.
“I still think across the league it’s fairly balanced.”