High-School Football Predictions - 2007
With the start of the 2007 high-school
football season now just about 24 hours away, don't be too surprised
if this becomes remembered as the Year of the Tie-Breaker. Much
like the case was one year ago, the SDSSAA eight team loop offers a
great deal of parity again this time around. At least four squads
enter the conversation of potential city champions with realistic
hopes, while two other improving programs remain just barely on the
outside looking in.
With this competitive balance in place, I
don't see any team at this time capable of running the table with a
5-0 regular season. Rather, based on a game by game analysis, I'm
predicting a three-way tie for top spot at 4-1, with one other
contender just a game back at 3-2.
If that is indeed the case, the gridlock
for top spot would quite likely be broken by the second tie-breaker,
that being fewest points allowed in the games played against tied
teams. I'm clearly getting ahead of myself but a five game regular
schedule, needed to allow time for the NOSSA semi-final game that
Sudbury will host this year, has all the makings of a logjam near the
This also means that each and every week
will feature some great matchups between teams that, in my opinion,
start the season with little to choose between them. That being said,
I've never been one to be a "fence-sitter" so without any further
delays, here are the 2007 Pre-Season High-School Predictions courtesy
Lo-Ellen Park Knights
The longer that decent weather is maintained and that skilled players
are capable of making skilled plays, the better the chances of the
Knights securing first place overall. No team will boast as much big
play potential as the Knights (Confederation is awfully close),
especially on offense where coach Kevin Ellsworth will have to
be at his best in designing game plans capable of making full use of
the talent around him.
Quarterback Brett Walter returns
for a second full season guiding the offense and he will have plenty
of weapons at his disposal. A receiving corps that includes the likes
of Jordyn Andric, Mark Randa, Kyle Yallowega and Josh Haslam
means that opposing defenses won't be able to key too much on any
Throw in workhorse fullback Kyle
Cooper and Soo transfer Bryan Babic in the backfield and
it's no wonder many are expecting the Knights to lead the league in
scoring this year. While not as big as some teams, the offensive line
of Chris Debruyn, Eric Searle, Kyle Murray and Neil Gorman
all gained valuable playing time one year ago.
Defensively, the Knights appear to be
solid but not overpowering, again giving up a little size on the some
of the bigger units in the city. An all-star at linebacker one year
ago, Alex Makitalo makes the move to the defensive line, lining
up alongside fellow all-star Chad Kirkland.
and Corey Rysdale will anchor the linebacking corps, with
Ellsworth still looking at moving Zolt Koscis from running back
to linebacker. Now in his third year under coach Ellsworth, Wes
Kowbasniuk will be given plenty of freedom to roam the secondary
as a pure "rover" while AAA hockey talent Ryan Sidun brings
size and speed at cornerback.
Chris Cull, Jeff Conrad
A week two matchup against St Benedict looms large, especially if the
Knights stumble against the Chargers under the lights at Confederation
opening night. Despite their obvious skill level, Lo-Ellen must prove
that it can beat a bigger opponent and the Bears provide just such a
St Benedict Bears
The second of my top three 4-1 selections, the returning champions are
not without some big shoes to fill, to be sure. Only one of seven St
Benedict players chosen for the 2006 all-star team returns in 2007 (slotback
Dylan Green). Still, the offensive line should improve with the
availability of a handful of '06 transfer students, Joey
Martellacci will benefit from a full season in the backfield and
the Bears enjoy as much depth as any roster in the city.
Offensively, southern Ontario transfer
student David Cocchiarella takes over for the departed
Andrew Kirkwood and he can take comfort in the fact that
Martellacci and Joel Desmarais provide a solid 1-2 punch. On
the outside, Dylan Green returns with Jordan Hynes as the duo
combined for five touchdowns last year, with Jordan Sovran
likely to step in at tight-end.
But the biggest advantage that
Cocchiarella might enjoy in getting acclimatized to his new
surroundings likely lies in an offensive line that includes Zack
Azzola, Austin Roy, Riley Roy and Matthew Moutsatsos, a
foursome capable of consistently providing that little extra time so
valuable at any level of football.
On the other side of the ball, St
Benedict returns many starters from last year's championship team,
even if some of their notable impact guys have moved on. The defensive
line sees Brock Lamarre, Kirk Vendramin and Jamie Fournier
part of a group that will seek to better the Bears standing as the
second best defensive unit in the league one year ago.
Former tight-end Chad McNeil makes
the move to linebacker, joining Mitch Portelance and Steven
Murray while Jason Jones and Nick Roy will be
counted on heavily to provide support in the secondary.
Andrew Kirkwood, Jonathon Mikus, Mike Bartolucci, Brent Edwardson,
After knocking Lockerby off their perch one year ago in laying claim
to the city crown, the Bears and Vikings meet in a week three showdown
that arguably features the two contenders with the most size across
their lineups. If St Benedict can get past both the Vikings and
Knights on back to back weeks, a 5-0 season is not impossible.
City champions in 2004 and 2005, the Vikings retooled last year and
coach Geoff Richer is optimistic that the step backward last
fall results in two steps forward this year. It's been no secret that
in the past few years, teams with a large number of players with
summer football experience with the Sudbury Northerners program
have tended to excel come fall.
In this regard, the Vikes are sitting
pretty. Second year signal-caller Christian Sampson may have
endured a frustrating few months, often at seige in the Jr Northerners
backfield. But the experience garnered in the Jr OVFL should pay
dividends as the Grade 12 student enjoys a little more time to
manoeuvre than with the Jr Northerners.
rambled for almost 600 yards last year and four touchdowns and this
September, he will enjoy the company of James Kolbasovsky and
shifty John Grenier, who showed glimpses of his talents this
summer as well. Displaying a strong throwing arm at the Jr OVFL level,
Sampson will be looking to receivers Pat Truskoski (147 yards
in 2006), Justin Arnold and Tom Mantala.
The O-Line features returning linemen
Steven Fretts and Andre Murray while Andrew Bellerose
shifts from linebacker to center this year. Mykel Cacciotti, Nick
Bonah and Michael Lapierre headline the defensive line but
in the tradition of Garbuio/Cecchini and company, the Vikings
linebacking corps stacks up as one of the best in the league.
Built around returning all-star Kevin
Stradiotto, the unit welcomes rookies Jordan Assinewe and
Nathan Quinn, both of whom made their presence felt with the Jr
Northerners this summer. In fact, Lockerby's depth at linebacker is so
prevalent that it allowed Richer the freedom to move Brad Durigon
into the defensive secondary, where he will join Nick Irvine,
Jeremy Hudson and possibly former running back Ben Gutjahr.
Kyle Tremblay, Pat Flemming, Ben Fenton
The Vikings will have the benefit of avoiding the other "big three"
until the final three weeks of the reular season but an October 5th
showdown with Lo-Ellen, sandwiched right between games with St
Benedict and Confederation, may well provide a test of just how close
this team is to returning to the top of the mountain.
It's tough to suggest that any team that features the offensive
explosiveness of Mike Switzer and Matt Mott could be a
middle of the pack team, but make no mistake about it: with wins
against both Lo-Ellen and Lockerby, the Chargers jump right to the top
of the standings with an unblemished 5-0 mark. But it won't be easy.
The graduation of Trevor Jessop
leaves big holes to fill and athletic but inexperience QB Travis
Campbell will need to prove that he can find a way to get the ball
into Mott's very talented hands. The league's leading rusher one year
ago with 677 yards, Switzer won't have the luxury of stalwart Joe
Longhi in the Chargers backfield.
But the dropoff in production may be
limited as athletic Scott Faulkner tosses aside the skates (the
former Valley East Cobra was a 15-goal scorer with the North Bay
Skyhawks last year) to strap on the cleats, providing some comfort for
Campbell as he gets his feet wet.
provides a nice complement to Mott in the receiving corps while
Matt Peadie (slotback) and 6'4" Evan Zimmerman (tight-end)
allow for two more reliable ball-catching targets. Still plenty of
questions with a week remaining until the home opener on the offensive
line although returnee Trevor Gudrie is sure to be accompanied
by youngsters with size.
On the other side of the ball, Kyle
Daoust has potential to have the kind of impact Jon Mikus enjoyed
with St Benedict one year ago while Chris Burns offers some
additional support. Chris Ristimaki, Matt Venne and Chris
Dillman are likely to form the core of the linebackign quartet
while Chris Gervais and Storm Edwards generate a
physical presence in the secondary for coach Brandon Dougan.
And with seven interceptions one year ago, Matt Mott has proven to be
a threat on both sides of the ball.
Trevor Jessup, Joe Longhi, Steff Thomas, Brandon Daynard
No team this year will likely need a solid performance in their
season-opening contest as much as the Chargers. After getting
dismantled in the semi-finals 42-7 by Lo-Ellen in late October (2006),
Confederation faces the very same opponent trying to set the tone for
the 2007 season. The Chargers don't necesarily have to win this game
but they do need to play a very competitive outing to avoid any
self-doubt settling in.
Seldom blessed with fifth year student athletes, Alouettes head coach
Paul Gauthier finds himself finally fielding a team that is not
a collection of primary junior-aged players. In fact, Gauthier will
have the benefit of no less than three veterans who return to CND for
a fifth year of secondary school eligibility.
On offense, Mitch Huneault returns
for a second year of guiding the Alouettes' attack and there are
certainly some very encouraging signs as he examines the options at
his disposal. City track star Eric Roque joins fifth year
running back Gaston Boucher in the CND backfield while Ben
Tramontini, Mathieu Dugas-Ruest and Matt Arbour are all
capable of earning valuable yards after the catch, if Huneault has
sufficient time to reach them.
That challenge will fall into the hands
of linemen Ryan Rutledge, Mathieu Chartrand, Mario Breault and
Jordan Faggioni, all of whom are eligible to return in 2008.
Former offensive lineman Simon Lapierre crosses to the
defensive line for his final year at CND, joining '06 all-star J.P.
Levesque and 12th grader Chad Larocque.
The Grade 11 tandem of Curtis Radey
and Michael Milad will try and hold the fort at linebacker
while the secondary ranks as one of the best in the city. All-star
Rob Godin joins Ben Larouche and Rob Guitard in one
of the more experienced combinations of DBs this year.
Jeff King, Frank Desmarais
In my opinion, the battle for 5th place will come down to the
September 28th contest that sees the Alouettes lock horns with the St
Charles College Cardinals. Both programs are currently on the upswing
as young starters have gained valuable playing time over the past
couple of years. My gut tells me this battle will come down to a big
play or two and Notre-Dame simply has a few more weapons.
St Charles College Cardinals
There's plenty of reason for optimism for head coach Mike Fabiilli
these days as the cards attempt to recapture the glory of football
years gone bye. The challenge was made much more difficult with the
opening of Bishop Alexander Carter Secondary School in Valley East as
the Cards instantly lost access to another two or three impact players
each and every year.
And while signs of promise are evident,
it looks like as a breakthrough may well be one more year away for the
St Charles College contingent. Rookie quarterback Chris Duke
takes over from T.J. Pugliese, although the star hockey
netminder remains in the backfield to support Duke for one year of
is also back taking the handoffs while volatile but talented athlete
Marco Armiento has been out with the team this fall as well.
Whether he will last the season is anyone's guess but as long as he
gets in the game, there is little doubt that Armiento can be a
A trio of Grade 11 students will step in
to form the bulk of the receiving corps as Nick Micelotta, Blair
Roberts and Brett Toulouse look to increase Chris Duke's
passing yardage. An all-star lineman on both offense and defense last
year, James Williams will be looked upon once again to provide
some leadership and handling double-duty along with Northerners'
lineman Jonathan Reis.
On defense, Williams and Reis will find
seniors Ryan Harvey and Keegan Rice offering their
services in helping to contain opposing QBs while Jon Laschuk, Eric
Conrad and Jacob Lynott provide linebacking support.
While some of the receiving corps will
also handle responsibilities in the defensive secondary, the likes of
Andrew St Amour, Hernando Jaramillo, Stephen Freskiw and
Corey Einarson will also see plenty of playing time as well.
Dylan Hunt, Jakob Quinn
The week one matchup with Lasalle on the road will provide an instant
measuring stick for just how much forward the Cardinals have moved.
The Lancers have gotten the better of St Charles these past few years
but they continue to struggle with numbers (see below) and are
certainly among a group of "beatable" opponents for the '07 Cards.
Three straight Division "B" crowns have provided little consolation
for a school that was a mainstay among the high-school elite just five
short years ago. Surprisingly to some, the biggest challenge at the
New Sudbury school lies simply in the numbers as the Lancers have had
trouble in recent years attracting talented athletes who do not
necessarily have any football background to join the gridiron gang as
they complete Grades 11 and 12.
Again this year, coach
and staff returns some top-end talent as
multi-purpose receiver and back Graham McRae is likely to be
featured in a variety of offensive formations. Quarterback Nick
Liard returns after losing the bulk of the 2006 season to an early
knee injury. Liard will look to rookie back Josh Cuomo to
provide some backup to McRae while Derek Weiss, Jon Taylor and
Brynley Peregrin are likely to find themselves as Liard's main
pass receiving targets.
The offensive line is reasonably intact,
although the possibility of key players having to go both ways in
several games should be cause for concern with the Lancers coaching
staff. Centre Kevin Spencer suits up for a third year as
starting centre while Joe Shyminsky and Josh O'Neil give
the Lasalle offense at least a couple of big blocking bodies to
and Jordan Lalonde anchor the defensive line, Jason King
and David Bailey will do the same at linebacker while
Darrell beaudoin, Matt Baldisera and Curtis Sutcliffe
provide decent strength in the secondary.
Daice Fontaine, Marc Kendall
If the Lancers have visions of finishing among the top four, it will
be critical that the team not only beat st Charles in their opener but
also handle the Cardinals with relative ease. With as many pure
athletes as a school such as Lasalle tends to generate, there is
always the chance that they could surprise league observers, turning
talented hockey and track stars into quality football players. But the
current lack of depth on the Lasalle roster, based on pre-season
practices, leaves the Lancers clearly a step behind many other teams.
The Sudbury Secondary School North Stars are out and the Lively Hawks
are in. Only time will tell if the Hawks fill the basement spot
vacated by the North Stars when the dust settles on the 2007 season.
The newcomers to the SDSSAA this year were not helped when the
coaching staff that guided the Juniors at the spring jamboree decided
not to continue with the team come the fall.
Former Sudbury Spartans coach Gord
Goddard stepped in to provide some stability on the bench but with
players still sorting positions just three days before the opener,
it's a pretty safe bet the Hawks will struggle, especially in the
Still, Goddard has found cause for
optimism, even if he's only three days into this new role. "There is
really good enthusiasm for the game of football...they're very eager
to learn", he said earlier this week. If nothing else, Goddard expects
the Lively crew to be a physical bunch, a good foundation on which he
With limited time at his disposal to
create a game-plan, Goddard is following some very common sense
principles in preparing his team for the Lockerby Vikings on Friday
night. "We gave them a philosophy and a very simple system. We're not
overwhelming them with information", acknowledges the recently
appointed president of the Spartans.
While Goddard will have a small handful
of players with Joe Mcdonald Youth Football League experience, it
apears unlikely that any of his starting lineup have suited up with
the Northerners or Jr Northerners. Much like the revival of the
Sudbury Secondary program just a few years ago, I would expect a
winless season to provide the base upon which improvement can be
garnered moving forward.
"The" Game: The schedule
maker did the Hawks no favours with both Lockerby and Confederation on
the lineup in the opening three weeks. But by the time that early
October rolls around, the Hawks might be able to take advantage of
either a Lasalle or St Charles team that is not experiencing the
success they hoped for and pull off the upset win.
Lockerby Vikings - predicted finish (1st) - final placing (4th
@ 4-2) - lost in Div A semi-final
St Benedict Bears - predicted finish (2nd) - final placing (1st
@ 6-0) - won city championship
Lo-Ellen Park Knights - predicted finish (3rd) - final placing
(3rd @ 4-2) - lost in city final
Lasalle Lancers - predicted finish (4th) - final placing (6th @
2-4) - won city Div B crown
St Charles Cardinals - predicted finish (5th) - final placing
(7th @ 0-5-1) - lost in Div B semi-final
Confederation Chargers - predicted finish (6th) - final placing
(2nd @ 5-1) - lost in Div A semi-final
Notre-Dame Alouettes - predicted finish (7th) - final placing
(5th @ 2-4) - lost in Div B final
Sudbury Secondary - predicted finish (8th) - final placing (8th
@ 0-5-1) - lost in Div B semi-final
Randy's Report Card
After two years of predictions, Randy's success rate (or lack
thereof!) reads as follows:
Completely accurate picks - four selections (of 16)
Off by just one placing - three selections
Off by two placings - six selections
Off by three placings - one selection
Worse picks - off by four - two selections:
St Benedict in 2005 (finished 7th instead of 3rd)
Confederation in 2006 (finished 2nd instead of 6th)