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Date Published: October 7, 2007

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 top.

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 of

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 single target.

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.

Lucas Pope 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.

Key losses: Chris Cull, Jeff Conrad

"The" Game: 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 test.

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.

Key losses: Andrew Kirkwood, Jonathon Mikus, Mike Bartolucci, Brent Edwardson, Mike Glass

"The" Game: 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.

Lockerby Vikings

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.

Adam Legault 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.

Key losses: Kyle Tremblay, Pat Flemming, Ben Fenton

"The" Game: 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.

Confederation Chargers

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.

Jon Beeson 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.

Key losses: Trevor Jessup, Joe Longhi, Steff Thomas, Brandon Daynard

"The" Game: 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.

Notre-Dame Alouettes

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.

Key losses: Jeff King, Frank Desmarais

"The" Game: 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 transition.

Geoff Nelson 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 difference-maker.

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.

Key losses: Dylan Hunt, Jakob Quinn

"The" Game: 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.

Lasalle Lancers

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 follow.

Will Flescher 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.

Key losses: Daice Fontaine, Marc Kendall

"The" Game: 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.

Lively Hawks

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 early going.

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 can build.

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.

Key losses: Not applicable

"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.

2006 Preview

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)


Return to Home Page

Article Archive:
Huard steals the show, from a local perspective, at OFSAA

Medal Count continues to rise for Lady Wolves
St Benedict still the team in beat in 2008
Four more NOHA crowns claimed locally...and AAA Wolves shine on the road

Applefest 2007 provides healthy crop of medals for Lady Wolves
High-School Football Predictions - 2007
Exciting finals highlight Big Nickel closing day
A look at the Onaping Falls Huskies and NOBHL Showcase Results

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