Class is not back in session, but the Pitt Meadows Marauders football squad has been going to school for a week.
The senior squad is working under the tutelage of a new bench boss this season, in community coach Frank Paulicelli. He will head the double A varsity coaching staff, and help with the junior varsity team and wherever else he is needed in the program.
Paulicelli has about 25 years of coaching experience on the gridiron, including community football, junior football in the BC Football Conference, and high school at Lord Tweedsmuir secondary in Surrey.
His players have made a good impression on the coach early in camp.
“They’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of athleticism,” said Paulicelli. “I’m excited about our skill positions.”
He said the quarterbacks will be Grade 12 Ryan Crockett, who played receiver and defensive back last season, and shows a good understanding of the game; and Grade 11 Riley Celino, who was the junior quarterback last season.
“Riley’s got a lot of skill at QB, and he throws a nice ball, with good touch,” said the coach.
He is also looking forward to a big year from his running backs.
About Grade 11 Levi Kongolo he said “The kid is explosive. He hits the hole really hard, and he has good vision.
And Reece Hansford is a Grade 12 who didn’t play last season, but the elite lacrosse player is a combination of speed and power.
“If we have those two in the backfield, it’s going to be one of the best backfields in the conference,” Paulicelli predicts.
And there is lots else to like – Justin Apps is an outside linebacker who was the defensive MVP at the Border Bowl all-star game.
Cole Reeder is a lineman who is 260 lbs and athletic, who will make an impact on both sides of the ball.
Sam Pourdana is new to football, but the Metro soccer player is fast, has good height, and is showing off some good hands.
“He’s soaking up the learning, and he is going to be a great receiver for us,” said his coach.
Will Bartolo is a linebacker and centre who will be a leader on defence, and Dalton Larabie will play defensive end and hound quarterbacks.
Paulicelli also likes the guys who will be helping him to put new emphasis on football at Pitt secondary.
“I’m really excited about our coaching staff this year. The culture is good.”
His son Mike will work with running backs and the defensive line,. He played five years of university ball with the Calgary Dinos. Bubba Montebello will work with linebackers. Adam Baboulis, who played for six years in the CFL, will coach the offensive line. Tim Larabie, who worked the the JV team last year, will move up.
Paulicelli said he wants to emphasize speed and aggressiveness with his team. On offense, he likes to run a zone blocking scheme.
“Keep it simple, but with lots of variables on offence, and on defence play as a team.”
Last year’s Grade 8 coaches Pat Mellesmoen and Ken Davies will be moving up to the junior varsity team this year, and Arvin Dadwall will be running the Grade 8s.
The senior team’s first game will be Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m., when they host Mission.