Toronto high school football programs return to the field
Not as many as previous years. But Toronto (and area) high school football teams are now back on the gridiron.
Though some schools did field teams in 2021, many others have not operated a program since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Thus, there are several programs that are running this year for the first time since 2019.
The TDSB has five senior entrants this year. Toronto’s Catholic schools loop features seven participating clubs. And a pair of Toronto schools are among those competing in a four-team Independent circuit.
A closer league at each squad follows.
TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (T.D.S.S.A.A)
The Rams are fielding their first team since 2019. Yet the squad managed to attract a total of 54 players for its senior squad.
Etobicoke coach Paul Dias has plenty of talented athletes to work with.
“But this year I’ve only got six kids who have ever played football,” he said.
The team’s fortunes will rely heavily on the newcomers.
“It depends how fast they can catch up,” Dias said.
The Rams will be led by quarterback Aquilles Chamberlain.
Other key players the Etobicoke club will be relying on are defensive end Jonathan Siddall, backup quarterback Kaiden Kane and defensive backs Jack Rosatelli and Luca Jovkavic.
There had been some talk the Panthers’ football program would fold. But almost 90 Lawrence Park students expressed an interest this past June in playing either junior or senior ball this fall.
The senior squad is now sporting a 44-player roster.
“We had been struggling the last 3-4 years before COVID,” said Panthers’ coach Chris Reid. “But our numbers are strong now. We’re hoping to start to build on that foundation.”
Lawrence Park will rely on linebacker John Weldon, quarterback Aden Lee and defensive end Max Belcastro, who has already committed to attend the University of Toronto next season.
“I think we have a shot at winning some games,” Reid said. “I think we’re going to be competitive and we’ll surprise some people.”
As it most previous years, the Red Knights have a massive roster. A total of 57 individuals are on the Northern senior club.
The Red Knights are expected to benefit from the fact they also played a condensed 2021 schedule.
“That’s a plus as it makes our team over-all better this year,” Northern head coach George Gretes said of the fact some of his players gained valuable high school experience a year ago.
The Red Knights are expected to be led by a pair of players in their fifth year of high school, cornerback Sheadenn Bowerbank and wide receiver Peter Lawrence.
Others who should play key roles for Northern include defensive lineman Sena Biya, safety Liam Trail and Lenox Nizami, a former defensive lineman who is now the club’s starting QB.
The Saints, a perennial league power, have 50 players on their roster this season, about half of which participated in Richview’s shortened 2021 campaign.
“I really think it’s anyone’s time this year,” Saints’ head coach Stath Koumoutseas. “All teams are welcoming new kids that have never played before.”
Those expected to make valuable contributions for the Saints this season include QB Michael Winiker, wide receiver Christian Jones-Donald, running backs Nicholas Allison and Antwone Daley and Jacob Przygodski, who is expected to see action as a linebacker, lineman and fullback.
“I think offensively we’ll be okay,” Koumoutseas said. “We’ve good some good skilled position guys.”
The Colts, one of three TDSB squads that fielded senior teams in 2021, are expected to take some positive steps forward this season.
“We didn’t win a game last year,” said Western Tech head coach Russ Hoff. “We’ve got a well-rounded team now and we’re hoping to change that this year.”
The Colts have about 40 players on their roster this season. The squad only lost about a half dozen players to graduation from its varsity club last year.
Western Tech will be led by Jackson Galanyk, a Grade 11 student who also started as the team’s QB in 2021. Other Colts’ players to watch out for include wide receiver Adam Tremblay, defensive end Kai Gagnon and defensive back Tevon Edwards.