Trojans hosting Royals in playoff tilt Thursday
No one is talking championship at Hugh Boyd Secondary, though the Trojans have quietly put together a contender.
Given the challenges just to field a team, even imagining the possibility seems ridiculous.
But this Thursday (3 p.m. kickoff at Hugh Boyd Park) the Trojans will host the Handsworth Royals in the opening round of the provincial high school AA junior football playoffs.
Two weeks before classes began in September, there was still no certainty Hugh Boyd would even have a team.
“We were still trying to cobble it together and at the high point had 13 or 14 kids a week before school opened,” said head coach Bruce Haddow. “We cancelled the first game (against Tweedsmuir) as a result because at that point we knew we wouldn’t be ready.”
But in the following weeks the Trojans grew in leaps and bounds, compiling a Southern Conference-best 4-1 win-loss record. Equally impressive was the fact they scored 78 more points than they allowed in the five regular-season games.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised after missing so much practice time last year (a result of teachers withdrawing participation in all volunteer activities including extra-curricular sports),” said Haddow.
Given the void, it magnifies how much progress the current Grade 9s made in Grade 8, he said.
“They went to the semifinals and while they didn’t win, they played well,” he said.
“I think that was the start and gave them a bit of confidence so that when they got to junior it made for a nice transition.”
But Haddow stressed none of the current success would have been possible without the strong leadership of the Grade 10s including centre and defensive back Adam Schuck, tailback and lineman Anthony Giorno, and fullback and linebacker Jacob Tubajon.
“Anthony and Shuck are more vocal leaders, while guys like Jacob, Max and (receiver and cornerback) Austin Do are more quiet leaders,” said Haddow.
“The kids have really bought into the fact there’s a play to be made on every play—either a block or a tackle. And whether you’re in for six or seven plays or just special teams that game, you’re contribution is always important.”
Equally notable, said Haddow, is that even when a first-string player is out of the lineup there is a belief their replacement is going to do the job with equal proficiency.