The North Park Trojans senior high school football team will be a very tight-knit squad this season because the players had to help build the team themselves.
“We’ve got a core group of kids playing football here for as many as five years,” coach Todd Andrew said. “But back in June, in our initial signups, it didn’t look so good. We were questioning a little bit if we could field a team.
“But the kids went out there and rallied together a team. We’ve had close to 35 kids out to practice the last few weeks.”
The season kicks off for the Trojans under the Gretzky centre lights on Friday against the St. John’s College Green Eagles at 8 p.m.
Andrew said the team has a good mix of kids with football experience and a lot of new faces.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “We’ll go out and give it our best shot. We are just a little wet behind the ears.”
The Trojans posted a 1-4 record last season, missing the playoffs following a final week loss to the Brantford Collegiate Institute Mustangs.
But with a strong ground attack and a bend-but-don’t-break defense, the Trojans expect to compete or become exhausted trying this season.
“We want to get our fair share of wins,” Andrew said. “Hopefully they will come our way, but if they don’t, we’ll be able to say we made the other schools earn their victory.”
Andrew said he preaches a competitive attitude to all the teams he coaches.
“If you just go out there and compete on every play to the best of your ability, the rest will take care of itself,” he said.
A running game will be the likely focus of the Trojans offense once again, as featured back David Adeniran will once again be getting plenty of handoffs.
Adeniran stepped in as a Grade 11 last season to fill the shoes of an injured player and quickly found he could evade tackles in the senior circuit.
“He is one of the top tailbacks in the city,” Andrew said. “A talented kid with speed, toughness and quickness. He’ll be the staple of our offense.”
Andrew also hopes the way the players brought out more teammates to compete this season will help make his bench stronger.
“Last year, we had a problem with our depth,” he said. “Hopefully that is not the case this season and we can keep the kids a little more fresh.
“We had trouble punching the ball into the end zone last season, but defensively we were able to stay in games.”
The junior Trojans team – which is being looked at as a top competitor on the high school circuit this season – will begin its season on Friday at 6 p.m. at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre field against the Green Eagles.
The senior game will follow the junior contest.