Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary School’s Titans junior football program is back for its second year, and head coach Tom Levesque has his sights set on the playoff berth that eluded the team last year.
“We were one win away,” he said. “This year, I think we have a good shot of making the playoffs.”
Despite much of last year’s team having aged out, many of the pivotal positions remain staffed with second-year players.
The team is currently sporting a 32-player roster, which Levesque hopes will swell to 40 once school starts.
The Titans front five linesmen return, and will be called upon to play a much bigger role on offence, with greater responsibilities and more complex plays.
“We have size and experience up front,” said Levesque. “They’ve come a long way in a short period of time.”
They will be led by line captain Donovan McMee, who Levesque considers to be one of the best players at his position at the junior varsity level.
“He used to be our centre, but he’s got a first step like a running back, so we moved him to guard to take advantage of that mobility,” said Levesque.
Grade 9 fullback Tyrell Ogloff will be captaining the teams offensive backs as the backbone of the team’s backfield. Zach Tripp-Buchanan will also be seeing lots of time at halfback.
At quarterback, Grade 10 student Mitch McDole will be taking up pivot duties. Despite being new to the position, Levesque said he likes what he sees.
“He played wideout last year, but he has really grown into the position,” he said.
While the Titans football program is sporting just a junior squad this year, Levesque says he hopes to add a senior team next season.
The team has also bolstered its coaching staff in anticipation of expanding into varsity football next year. Mark Ogloff takes on defensive coordinator duties, while Al Jones is working with special teams and the offensive line. Chris Hawks will be working with the quarterbacks, as well as the defensive backs, as Levesque coordinates the offence.
“We are striving to create a football culture at the school,” Levesque said. “We want pride and respect to be associated with this team. When someone’s down, we pick them up.”
That means there’s no swearing on the field, and players wearing their Titans jerseys are expected to be on their best behaviour at all times.
“They know there are added consequences for their actions when they are representing this team,” Levesque said.
With extra time to prepare for this season, Levesque said the coaching staff has been especially impressed with the attitude of the players this year.
Having the extra staff on hand has allowed the team to better develop their offensive play this season.
“We’ve completely retooled our offence,” Levesque said. “There will be a lot misdirection, more complexity, and new formations.
“It’s going to be about execution and precision.”
With the Albion area continuing to grow, Levesque is confident football has a bright future at the school.
“The SRT catchment is a blessing,” said Levesque. “There’s more families moving into the neighbourhood every day, and that means more kids.”
The Titans play their first game of the 2011 season this Wednesday with an exhibition game against Windsor secondary on the road. The Titans first home game is Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. against Robert Bateman secondary.