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Teetering on that line between second and fifth
2019-09-10

I feel quite confident with my #1 overall selection for the SDSSAA varsity football predictions that will be unveiled on Wednesday.

I am almost as confident at the other end of the standings, as I look at the team that is likely to occupy the basement in 2019 in today’s grouping.

Everything in between, however, is pretty much anyone’s guess.

That said, in the tradition that has become even more anticipated than the turning of the leaves in these parts, the Pascal prognostications will fearlessly forge forward, where others dare not tread, ranking all six teams with their projected final record.

CONFEDERATION CHARGERS (2-3 for 4th place)
Like pretty much every other team in this middling grouping, Confederation coach Brandon Dougan has a core of nice pieces to work with. More importantly, the numbers for the Chargers are up, ever so slightly, this fall, with a 20ish player roster constituting the bane of this team’s existence the past few seasons.

Though Bradley Patterson is likely more dangerous at wideout or slotback, quarterback is the area of need again at Confed. The extent to which the slippery pivot can find that perfect balance of knowing when to fully utilize the talented teammates at his disposal, and when to improvise, will go a long way towards deciding whether Confederation moves up or down for this slot in the standings.

A rebuilt backfield sees Jr Spartans product Ryan Kneblewski and first year year senior Felix Koiengu join former lineman Denver Boyuk, who will likely do double duty as a linebacker. In Mason Tremblay, Connor MacNeil, Dylan Whitmell, Tanner McCosham and Tyler Rose, Patterson has some tempting choices in spreading around the aerial attack.

Pretty much every team whose mascot name does not begin with “B” and end with “ears” is in the same boat in the trenches, struggling with any kind of depth and only sporadic size.

Alex McNabb provides an all-star caliber anchor for the Chargers, and coach Dougan noted that the return of Annie Duncan to the fold is huge for his team, which also welcomes the likes of Isaac Campeau, Ben McLaughlin, Hunter Bradley, Yanick Taillefer and Wesley Brisebois to the battle in the pits.

A linebacking trio of Christian Rocca, Denver Boyuk and Matt Gaudreau matches up well with most remaining schools, while the secondary unit of Tyler Rex, Shawn Jewell, Ryan Rivest, Parker Bertrand and Aidan Taylor will need to be at the top of their game when facing those key opponents who can put the ball in the air effectively.


LO-ELLEN PARK KNIGHTS (1-4 for 5th place)
Yes, well respected coach Kevin Ellsworth has retired, but it is certainly not the presence of new gridiron mentor J.J. McKnight that is holding this crew back. That has far more to do with the lack of a junior team one year ago, as the Knights took a step back from the pack in developing grade 9 and 10 talent.

Furthermore, in addition to graduating the bulk of their starting linemen, the team is also inserting relative newcomers into key roles. Make no mistake – McKnight can coach, but even he will have to pull some rabbits from a hat to exceed the .500 mark with this team this year.

If you are going to break in a new QB, which Lo-Ellen is doing in the form of Cam Puro, best that it be done with one of the city’s best running backs as his primary option. Josh Giroux has already shown the ability to elude defenders over the course of the summer with the Jr Spartans, but the bulky blockers that he followed there are now entrusted with containing him, playing for rival high schools in the fall.

With teams keying on Giroux, the progress of slotback Tyler Marcon, running back Tyler Korzeniecki and receivers Owen Assinewei and Bryce Desabrais will be critical in helping Lo-Ellen stay in games.

Evan Gedye, Tyson McFadden and Chad Sweeney are nice starting points defensively, with Findlay Stevens, Kieran Chartrand and Scott Baxter-Derro also projected to help the front seven. While the strength of this unit lies in the secondary – Carter Will, Jacob Bartolucci, Kacey Thompson, Ty Hart and Cooper Fontaine, in particular – I am just a little concerned that by the time opposing teams hit the Lo-Ellen secondary, the damage is already done.


NOTRE-DAME ALOUETTES (0-5 for 5th place)
Perhaps this is the season that CND starts to work its way back to the glory of years gone by, even if the team remains winless once again. There are certainly some encouraging signs in place for head coach Matt Chartrand.

For starters, the numbers are up, with more than 30 players registered, versus less than 20 that finished the 2018 campaign with the Alouettes. And the bulk of these players are eligible to return next year.

Furthermore, there is finally the semblance of a “coaching staff” assembled at Notre-Dame, with Chartrand now receiving assistance from Spartans teammates Eric Breau and Joe Shyminsky and others.

That coaching knowledge will be paramount to any chance that this crew has to hit the win column, with a boatload of newcomers to the team, and with a number of the returnees not even returning to the same positions.

Rookies Ethan Roy and Nicholas Aubin step in at quarterback, with Brett Lafortune shifting over to defense, joining former running back Adoum Djibrine on the opposite side of the ball. The reverse is true as well as Alex Rhéaume makes the move from defensive secondary to the backfield, where he will join former receivers Tristan Lacroix and Alain Dufresne.

Skyler Ledroux returns at wide receiver, welcoming back Kevin Watson after a one year absence, with ultra-versatile Ethan Polley also likely to see time in various offensive formations, over and above his workload at safety.

The world of the big boys is inhabited by boys that are not necessarily all that big, and with only a smattering of lineman experience shared within a group that features Bichera Alladjaba, Kyle Sabourin, Rhylea Tremblay, Jarred Lacroix and Jérémie Pelletier.

It is likely of some consolation to the Notre-Dame coaches that a pair of linebackers will carry with them some of the most game wisdom, in their respective positions, on the team, as Will Sivazlian and Jacob Lacquerre attempt to provide some stability to the second layer of the defensive unit, while Polley gets some support in the secondary in the form of Jr Spartans cornerback Antwoine Therrien.

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