By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 13 2016
It’s a new season and there are a few new faces at the gridiron for the Red Hawks football team but the game remains a favourite of the coaches.
Coach Derek Little who is co-coaching the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School juniors with volunteer coach Dave Lloyd encouraged his new players reminding them of his passion for the sport.
“This is the best game in the world … there’s a spot for everyone” he said referring to how all body types and physical attributes are relevant.
After the retirement of teacher coaches Bruce Griffith and Tim Davies who both spent decades coaching either the junior or senior teams principal Dan Marsden has stepped in and will co-coach the senior team with community coach Raavo Laidla. Marsden is excited to be joining the program. He hasn’t coached football for close to 22 years. He last coached the first two years he worked at the school as a teacher.
In practice the team was working on a lot of pass plays with Rylan Gwyn at the pivot. Senior Sage Christiano was in practice leading the offensive line protecting Gwyn who was regularly looking for the very tall Chris Thompson.
Lloyd assumes a greater role with the juniors now that Davies retired. He helped coach the juniors last year and joined because of his son. His football resume includes playing as a defensive lineman for University of Guelph Gryphons and before coming here he coached the Huronia Stallions.
On the first day of practice there were close to 50 players for both squads which included 30 for the juniors who were put through their paces with several physical drills including new tackling and blocking drills as part of a new program implemented by Football Canada called Safe Contact. The Echo will have a story in a future edition about details for this new initiative to reduce injuries.
Before this week’s confirmation of junior teams there has been a proposal for eight total schools which includes Thomas A. Stewart Secondary Adam Scott St. Peter’s Holy Cross Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute Crestwood Fenelon Falls Secondary School and Haliburton. Games will be held once a week. Teams are ranked this season one through eight. The Hawks are ranked seventh ahead of Kenner who did not have a team last year. To encourage new and developing teams the league will ensure lower ranked teams such as Haliburton do no play No. 1 ranked schools such as Crestwood.
Little and the juniors appreciated the seventh ranking and are optimistic to improve from last year’s poor season.
“Only one way for us to go” he said which was received with cheers.