CCHS looking for revenge against arch rivals in season opener
CCHS Trojans (from left) Zach Ferguson and Edward Hudec work on their theree-point stance during practice as they prepare for the upcoming Central Alberta High School Football League season in Camrose on Friday. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
The Camrose Composite High School Trojans football team will not have to wait long to exact revenge on their arch-rival.
The Wetaskiwin Composite High School Sabres beat them in both the Highway 13 Cup and the Central Alberta High School Football League bronze medal game last season. On Sept. 8, the two teams will open the season in Wetaskiwin for this year’s Highway 13 Bowl, and there is little doubt about the Trojans’ intentions or motivation.
“We’ve had a rivalry ever since they’ve been in existence,” said Trojans head coach Adam Belanger, now in his 13th year coaching with the team.
“At the end of the game, the losing coach walks over and hands the trophy over to the winning team. I had to give that to Wetaskiwin last year, so I don’t want to do that again.”
The Trojans will have their work cut out for them this year with a young squad, but they have been the beneficiary of the Camrose Buffaloes minor football program. Their roster is filled with potential and skill at critical positions, returning the likes of reigning CAHSFL rookie of the year Teryll Sherman, 15, at middle linebacker.
“He stepped in last year as a Grade 10 and took the middle linebacker job and did real well there,” said Belanger. “He’s coming in in the second year in the same system and he’s going to be that much more confident and everyone is stepping up and being a little more confident, a little bit more comfortable with the systems and where our expectations are.”
The five-foot-10, 180-pound Grade 11 linebacker is a run-stuffing stud in the middle of the Trojans’ front seven. Last year he recorded 23 solo tackles and a sack.
“I learned a lot defensively, knowing where to go, and coach Josh (Kofoed) helped me out a lot with that,” said Sherman. “I was more of an offensive guy before I came to high school, but now I’m a defensive guy, I just like hitting people.”
He is one of several Trojans who has the potential to follow in the steps of a number of players who have graduated from this program on to junior football and the U-Sport level, like Jayden Neuman and Matt Harland who signed on with the Edmonton Huskies of the Prairie Football Conference this summer. Just this past spring, Camrose standout receiver Tylor Henry was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the eighth round of this year’s CFL draft after starring at the University of Alberta. He has returned to school this year, but also spent a lot of time this summer coming back to help the Trojans prepare for the upcoming season.
“It’s definitely a big help,” said Sherman. “They get to learn from the best coaches up there and they come back and teach us what they know and that helps us to lead the team. We can now go back and share it down to the maybe the first-year players.”
Ideally Belanger says he likes to run a four-linebacker scheme with ample pressure up the middle, though it all comes down to what players they have to fit the scheme.
“The joy of coaching at the tier III level is you have to tailor make everything to the players you’ve got,” said Belanger. “The defence that we run is a multi-front defence. We’ve got six different defensive fronts that we run — not a ton of plays that we run out of each of them, but it’s moving guys around.”
Scoring points may be the Trojans biggest challenge this year. The centre point of the offence will be returning starting running back Nick Ioanidis, however, the big question mark is who will be handing the ball off to him. Presumed starting quarterback Griffin Lorenz suffered an Achille’s injury playing basketball and is still not ready to play, leaving the Trojans with an unenviable quarterback by committee situation. Belanger plans to rotate several players through the position depending on game situations.
The plan, however, is a fluid one. A few years ago, they were in a similar position, but early in the season a full-time starter fell in their lap.
“Low and behold, second week of school, a kid shows up and he has a natural aptitude to play quarterback, despite never playing quarterback before,” said Belanger. “I don’t know if we’ll get that lucky this year, but we will see.”
Sherman, Drew Loosemore and Tynan McCarthy, 17, will all be in the rotation under centre.
Tynan will also be playing linebacker and safety on defence. He says he will be definitely be more of an option-run quarterback.
“It will give us diversity, especially on the offensive side of the ball with three different quarterbacks with three differernt unique skills,” said McCarthy.
He is one of the few Grade 12s on the roster this year and will be looked to for his leadership on and off the field.
“There’s definitely a lot more responsibility, especially among the four or five Grade 12s we have, but we have a lot of great Grade 11s coming along this year, so it should … have more Grade 11s step up and act like Grade 12s,” said McCarthy.