High school football fans should mark Friday, Oct. 4 on their calendars.
That evening, starting at 7 p.m., the new $1.2 million artificial turf field at Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School is scheduled to be officially unveiled.
It should be an exciting game, too, because the two-time defending Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior champion Cardinals take on their main rival, the St. Thomas More Knights. And you just know the Knights would like nothing better than to spoil the party. Remember, More lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Cardinals at both finals of 2011 and 2012.
Newman came from behind to edge More, 23-21, for the T. Eaton Trophy last season, driving down the field in the late stages to set up Daniel Petermann’s successful 14-yard field goal with 12.3 seconds left on the clock at Ron Joyce Stadium.
“It will be a big opening for us,” says Anthony Macaluso, Newman’s first-year senior team head coach who spent eight seasons coaching the junior Cardinals. “I’m excited for the challenge that lies ahead.”
The official kickoff for the 2013 HWCAA schedule is Friday (Sept. 13) on three fronts. Here’s a brief look at how the seven senior teams are shaping up.
CARDINAL NEWMAN CARDINALS
HEAD COACH – Anthony Macaluso
KEY LOSSES – Daniel Petermann, Eric Mezzalira, Josh Lolly
TOP NEWCOMERS – Marcus DiLoreto, Justin Connolly, Mitchell Thiele
VETERANS TO WATCH – QB Matthew Metcalfe, DE Anthony Fascione, RBs Justin Connolly, Matt Antonucci, and Mitchell Atlee.
OVERVIEW – Six Cardinals played for the Hamilton Hurricanes, winners of last month’s Ontario Football Conference senior varsity championship. And a handful of others saw action during the summer with the Ironmen and Steelers organizations. Newman plays its first three games away from home. It could be a three-peat for the Cardinals, formerly coached by Gord Chiarot.
Cardinal Newman’s Anthony Macaluso rallies the defending champions. (Photo: Gerry Graham)
COACH’S COMMENTS – “As defending champions, we always have the target on our back. Three of the past four years Newman has played More in the final, but any team in this league can win on a given week. It’s the nature of the talent in our city. I think we’ll be a really good competitive team. We have a lot of talent at the skill positions and on the line. We’ve got guys who are filling big shoes and are hungry. I think we’ll win as a team rather than relying on the talents of one or two players. It will come down to all of us.”
ST. THOMAS MORE KNIGHTS
HEAD COACH – Claudio Silvestri
KEY LOSSES – Kyle Shallow, C.J. Paduano, Mike Brown, Matt Brown, Jordan Brucculeri, Hayden Toole
TOP NEWCOMERS – A solid group of young talent from the championship junior squad, including quarterback Mitchell Phillips
VETERANS TO WATCH – WR Billy Olds, LBs Santino Gallo and Darnell Swaby, DL Paul Connor, TB Rooks Llewellyn, RB/LBTB Kadeem Bertrand
OVERVIEW – The Knights were league champions in 2006, ’07, ’08, and ’10. They have a bye in Week 1. And with all the changes to key personnel, More is going to need time to work together. Silvestri plans to use a backfield by committee. At quarterback, Phillips is battling with Nick Digati (a former starter who sat out a year) to be first-string.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “It is a rebuilding year for us for sure. We don’t really know what to expect. We lost a core of our strength both offensively and defensively. Proudly to say, some went to the OUA (Ontario university football). We’ll have a brand new backfield, including quarterback. We lost a load of talent from the backfield and receiving corps. Some guys who were second-stringers are hoping to get their chance. It will take some time and patience. We hope to progress and get better as we get deep into October.”
HEAD COACH – Rob Ciofani
KEY LOSSES – Matthew Bendia, Batista Briatico
TOP NEWCOMERS – FB Liam Barry
VETERANS TO WATCH – QB Tyler Boucher, WR Justin Lloyd, OL/DL Stephon Smith, SB/DB Weston Aiton-Poore
OVERVIEW – Gaels are coming off an exhibition game against Oakville Holy Trinity. Cathedral features eight returning starters.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “I’m expecting to turn it up this year and have a better season than we’ve had in the past. I think we’ll get a couple of more wins. Obviously, our league is good with Thomas More and Newman. They’re the class of the league. I’m expecting us to be in the hunt, though. And when we get into the playoffs, crazy things can happen. Our main man is Tyler Boucher. He’s our quarterback and a fifth-year guy. We expect a lot from him this year. He’s a threat with his arm and his feet. He’s an elusive kid with a great arm. And he makes great decisions.”
ST. JEAN de BREBEUF BRAVES
HEAD COACH – Anthony Alfano
KEY LOSSES – Team MVP Daniel McNicholl (Carleton Ravens)
TOP NEWCOMERS – Christian Parris, Ahmed Yousif, Nathan Bruzzesse, Dezain Brooks, Frank Bozzo
VETERANS TO WATCH – TB Nick Hinds, SB/DB Steven McNicholl, WR Jake Lee, RB Santiago Velasquez, SB Mackenzie Sajder, MLB Mitch Lewandowski
OVERVIEW – A former starting quarterback for the McMaster Marauders, Alfano takes over from his brother, Steve, as head coach. The Braves return six players on offence and four on defence. Brebeuf dressed only 27 players in 2012 and still managed to finish in third place with four wins, two losses. This season, over 40 hopefuls tried out.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “We have a starting quarterback competition, not controversy, between returning starter Michael Mancinelli and Justin Dipietro, who was the starter in junior last year. This should be a position of strength for us this season. Nick Hinds returns as a starting tailback after suffering a torn ACL in our semifinal loss to Cardinal Newman. He underwent reconstructive surgery in January and worked extremely hard to be ready and healthy to start the season.”
BISHOP RYAN CELTICS
HEAD COACH – John Fleming
KEY LOSSES – Tyler Swick, Jason LeDonne, Andrew Terceira
TOP NEWCOMERS – Phillip Walter, Giordan Caruso, Jacob Thompson
VETERANS TO WATCH – OL Antonio Pugliese, Brandon Chora, and Brett Martin, QB/WR Mark Fournier, QB Eric White, RBs Stefan Olivieri, Nick Boonstra, and Brandon Bettencourt.
OVERVIEW – No new artificial turf football field yet for Bishop Ryan football, but it’s coming soon when they move to Rymal Road East and Dakota Boulevard from the Quigley Road site.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “Our veterans will be the key for us. We have a veteran offensive line. I’d say our ability to incorporate a balance between running and passing would be our strength. It’s a very competitive league. Every game is important. Alex Terry and Mark Giansante will anchor our defensive line along with linebackers Andrew Hazell and Mark Zulak.”
ST. MARY CRUSADERS
HEAD COACH – Nick Lazar
KEY LOSSES – Alex Chciuk (Western Mustangs), plus three OL veterans due to work commitments
TOP NEWCOMERS – Brett Roberts, Will Benoit, Tyrell Collins-Reid
VETERANS TO WATCH – 10 returning starters – LB/OL Steven Doyle, QB Matt Sartori, LB/OL Josh Parkinson, R/DBs Avin Ferando, Sean McGarry, R/BB Glen McGarry, LB/R Dom Leon, R/DB Takwana Madziba, RB/DB Jesse Orgar, LB/OL David Naar
OVERVIEW – For the second consecutive year, the St. Mary squad took part in a cultural exchange through football with a team from Western Canada. Last season, the Crusaders hosted the Grande Prairie Warriors and then travelled to that Alberta town. This season, the two-week program involved the Crusaders and the Terry Fox Ravens of Port Coquitlam, B.C. The teams practised and played together.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “My team will be tough and competitive throughout the season. Our strength is the offensive backfield of Jesse Orgar, Liam Crawford and Tyrell Collins-Reid plus quarterback Matt Sartori.”
BISHOP TONNOS TITANS
HEAD COACH – John Kalenchuk
VETERANS TO WATCH – WR/DB Aldis Witolla, OL/DL Giuliano Trulli, OB/DB Cameron Wright
OVERVIEW – Kalenchuk, a coach in Hamilton for 14 years, will be serving as sideline boss for the first time at Tonnos. The Titans also have a new offensive co-ordinator in Daryl Skuse, while Gino Bellardini returns to oversee the defence. Five of the Titans were members of the OFC senior varsity champion Hamilton Hurricanes. About 35 players have attended workouts.
COACH’S COMMENTS – “We’re excited about the possibilities. We have some strengths in certain areas that we’re trying to make use of. A lot of our senior guys have come back. They’ll be able to work with the younger guys and to show them what’s necessary for success. We’ll have good athletes on both sides of the ball. We’ll probably be relying on our defence the first couple of weeks as we get more familiar with the offensive game plan we’re installing. At quarterback, we’re not exactly sure who it will be. Grade 11 student Joe Radeszewski and senior student Matt Michalski are kind of duking it out for the No. 1 position. Our goal is to have a winning record. Then, when it comes to the playoffs, either protect our home field if we’re in the top half of the standings or play the role of spoiler if we’re in the bottom half.”