St Benedict Bears clearly the best of the rest
by Randy Pascal
The second half of the SDSSAA football predictions features the teams ranked from fourth to sixth. No doubt that all of these squads will be highly
motivated to prove just how erroneous one can be when trying to gaze into the crystal ball that is local high school football.
St Benedict Bears (2-3 - 4th place): As of three months ago or so, it was all but assumed that the two finalists from 2017 – St Ben's and Lively –
would be duking it out, once again this fall, come time for the city championship. Of course, that was based on a mindset that the Bears would enjoy a
typical return of 12+ grade athletes, a group that usually numbers, for most contending schools, between six to eight experienced seniors.
When that number drops to but two or three and no longer includes the likes of Max MacGillivray and Michael Andlar, then there are some
serious vacancies to be filled at St Benedict. A mix of old and new is evident right across the roster, starting in the backfield where the presence of
returning QB and Gladiators veteran Adam Rocha coincides with the arrival of newcomer Eric Elliott at running back.
Eric Huneault and Chris Gosk make for inviting targets for the prototypical pocket passer, with Robbie Zulich (Jr Glads), athletic
tight end Cole Crowder and double duty senior Caleb Rivers rounding the receiving bracket out nicely. The “O” line is something of a rebuild,
with Gabe Wabegijig about to welcome in the new fresh faces of C.J. Nacarato, Noah Furtenski, Ty Pearson and Jacob Thibeault.
There is a little more of a game proven resume on the other side of the line, led by Jr Gladiator of the Year, Ben Cacciotti. The talkative
trenchman will be accompanied by Elliott Robinson, Tanner Patterson and Aleandro Galiano, with the line needing to prove it can handle both
pass heavy (Lively) and run heavy (St Charles) attacks in order to leap into the top three.
There is no doubt that much of the defense will center around the play of interior linebacker Chris Scherzinger, with Ben MacDonald making
it a nice one-two punch, and Zack Giroux and Austin Mader adding key depth to the mix. It's a similar story in the secondary, as Rivers looks
to stabilize a unit that will need the likes of Aiden Klem, Braden Hanna, Brady Chisnell and possibly Huneault, as well, all needing to assert their
Confederation Chargers (1-4 - 5th place): If you have heard this song before, you can feel for Confederation head coach Brandon Dougan.
Again this fall, he is blessed with some outstanding local high-school football talent. And again this fall, the issue will be numbers, or more precisely,
a lack thereof.
Starting any season with just 25 or so players is almost always a recipe for disaster, especially by the time weeks four and five roll around. And while
Bradley Patterson is likely their best bet for success at quarterback, this also means that he is not out in the open field, creating havoc for
opposing outside defenders and defensive backs.
Parker Bertrand and Dan Perrault will have to be awfully quick studies as running backs, with Aiden Chmielak able to spell some
time there between his roles as middle linebacker and fullback. The same names that occupy the Chargers depth chart as wideouts and slotbacks also slide in
to the defensive secondary slots, meaning the likes of Mason Tremblay, Tyler Rose, Justin Bélanger, Connor MacNeil and Dylan Whitmill are all
about to be kept quite busy.
More of the same on the line, though offensively speaking, the experience that the quartet of Braedyn Charette, Alex McNabb, Denver Boyuk and
Austin Miller can bring to the table is promising – if they can all stay healthy. These same hulking lads will have to rotate through the defensive
line as well, giving a helping hand to stalwarts Braeden Boissoneau and Lucas Sprack, with OFSAA caliber thrower Adriana Duncan also
likely to try and chip in where she can.
Aiden Chmielak gives Confederation some useful experience at linebacker, with Christian Rocca at his side. After that, there's a whole lot of
questions, with simply not enough bodies to provide the answers, at least not in a way that is likely to pose a serious threat to the top four teams.
Notre-Dame Alouettes (0-5 - 6th place): Thankfully, numbers are not an issue for coaches Matt Chartrand and Eric Breau at CND.
Instead, there quite frankly is not a whole lot of name recognition in the roster that opens the season for the Alouettes, be it athletes who have already
established themselves as all-star caliber in this league, or starters in summer football, or even prominent names within the Joe MacDonald Youth
That said, if a large number of these teenagers who first cut their teeth last fall in senior football can take a large step forward, then an upset of
Confederation is not out of the question, with hopes for a competitive outing against the remaining teams likely the high-end ceiling for Notre-Dame.
Hosting spring sessions at the school has certainly helped ease the learning curve for the francophone crew which unveils a new quarterback in Andrew
Gauthier, and a young ball carrying tandem in the form of Adoum Djibrine (grade 10) and Nick Aubin (11). Thankfully, linebacking star
Eric Atoh can handle a load for time to time, though the price then could be paid defensively.
Receivers Tristan Lacroix, Alain Dufresne and Skyler Ledroux are hoping to make the folks at CND forget about the graduation of Hunter
Adams to RMC. The progress along the lines could make or break the Alouettes' season, given that the entire assembly of Josh Menard, Zack Pilon,
Julien Hebert (former quarterback), Xavier Bruneau, Taggart Zuck (former LB) and Dillan Fowler have some form of game reps to draw upon.
While Atoh is pencilled in the fortify the linebacking trio, pleasant surprises from Will Sivazlian, Nathan Drolet and Jacob Lacquerre
would allow Chartrand and Breau some critical flexibility on offense. The secondary was the one unit where folks were still carving out their niche, though
Ethan Polley looks like a given at safety.
In order to add an extra element of fun for all of those backseat prognosticators who question the validity of this pre-season tradition, the
“Pascal Challenge” has been launched this fall. Anyone who wants to put their picks on the line against the expert (tongue planted firmly in cheek!)
are asked to submit their picks, via email, to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, prior to the first game of the year Thursday night. A list of all of those
who manage to better my predictions will be published at season's end.
Scoring system is one point for every game that you are off on your predictions (ie. If you predict Lively to finish at 5-0 and they are actually 4-1,
you get one point). The idea is to have the lowest score possible – a perfect ballot would be a score of zero. If you've enjoyed debating the merits of these
predictions in the past, here is your chance to show that you are the real expert when it comes to Sudbury high-school football.