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Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2018
Labrosse and the Spartans look to 2018
by Randy Pascal

Sudbury Spartans' head coach Junior Labrosse must be getting tired of singing the same old song. At least this time around, there were a few new verses in the mix.

Yes, the offense struggled once again, as it has for almost the entire summer of 2017, as the local NFC (Northern Football Conference) crew were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, dropped 48-3 by the Oakville Longhorns last weekend.

And while Labrosse was not about to let his offense completely off the hook, he was willing to acknowledge that forces beyond their control did not help the northern underdogs in their quest for an upset.

"The winds were crazy, the weather was tough," said Labrosse. "In the first quarter, the offense could not get us out of our end. Any time (kicker) Massimo (Cimino) was trying to punt, the ball would hang up in the wind and basically come back to the original line of scrimmage."

"The defense were stuck defending anywhere from our 25 to our 30 for the entire quarter. It wasn't like our defense let us down, Oakville just had great field position." Offensively, the Spartans were simply not able to gain any traction at all.

"Any time you turned around, our quarterback was either on his back, or the running backs were averaging two yards a carry," said Labrosse. "The passing game wasn't there, there was no accuracy in the passing game. Their offense was on the field for three quarters of the game."

With an entire off-season ahead of him, the long-time defensive back of the team he now leads is not about to slow down his search for answers. "Even when I played, once the season was done, it still really wasn't done," suggested Labrosse.

"I turn to the next season. Offensively, I am thinking about what I can do as a head coach to make this team more successful. Recruiting is one thing. We had a good influx of rookies this year. Do we need "O" linemen? Yes, we do. Do we need more of them? Yes, we do."

"The key for us is to keep the defensive nucleus there, add few players here and there. We need more "D" linemen, especially to give a guy a breather or even be able to talk to the starters during the game."

On the positive side, Labrosse felt very comfortable with his front seven or eight, right from the get go. The play of his secondary, however, was a pleasant surprise. "Chris Tarini, Matt Furino, Andrew St Amour, Miller Donnelly, Reinhardt Grobler - as a unit, the defensive backs were stellar," he said.

And, of course, the young man who led the entire league in interceptions, with ten, in just his second year with the team - Konnor Gillis. "Last year, he had a good season, especially for a rookie in our league," said Labrosse.

"There was a learning curve. This year, with a stronger defensive line, we had a little more pass rush, opposing quarterbacks were rushing to make decisions, and Konnor became more of a student of the game."

"Last year, he might have been a little more afraid to try for the ball and miss it, where this year, he was more of a leader in the defensive secondary, much more confident." And if Labrosse has harped on the same message when it comes to the on-field play of his troops, he has also been consistent in terms of the appeal he has been sending to local football talent still sitting on the fence.

"I think the word is getting out that the club has changed, that it's not the old boys club any more," he said. "I am going to put in the guy best suited to help me win the game."

Anyone interested in finding out more about joining the Spartans for the 2018 season can reach Labrosse either via email at "spartan26@hotmail.com", or by phone at (705) 665-8426.

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