Recruitment pace accelerates for Cheetahs standout. Vanier Cheetahs linebacker Brian Harelimana’s recruitment process has gained some speed. Brian Harelimana Positions: Linebacker (Outside) Height/Weight: 6’2, 210 lbs Teams: Vanier
OFC: JV Panthers plan to impress
OFC: JV Panthers plan to impressadmin0 Comments
The Junior Varsity Hamilton-Wentworth Panthers are making a fresh start this season with an all new coaching staff that plans on turning heads.
Past Panther Bert McCallum has been coaching in the OVFL and at Waterdown District High School for over 13 years and is now the head coach and defensive coordinator for the team.
The team didn’t leave much of a mark last season and McCallum believes that the coaching staff was part of the problem.
“(They were) really nice guys,” he said. “But the coaching staff probably wasn’t as strong as it needs to be in a rep level program.”
A problem that McCallum thinks they’ve overcome.
“We have a really great group of coaches that are involved with this team,” he said. “Our offensive coordinator, Malcom Macrae, actually started the Panther football program back in the early 80s. We play at Macrae Field. He`s really built this program from the very beginning and he`s come out to be our offensive coordinator. So we`re thrilled with that.”
McCallum has confidence in all of his coaching staff, which includes ex-NFL Europe and Hamilton Tiger Cats player Derek Noble, who is in charge of special teams, and one-time CIS Rookie of the year Kyle Williams, coaching the quarterbacks.
The talent isn’t limited to the coaches, however, as the team boasts an imposing defensive line.
“On the defensive side of the ball, we`ve got a really strong group of linebackers,” said McCallum. “We have, probably, more linebackers on this team than on any other team that I’ve coached. We’re pretty excited about our overall group of linebackers, that’s for sure.”
On offence, players to watch include quarterback Cam Wright and starting free safety Tyler Noble.
“One of our best, all-around, multi-purpose guys is Tyler Noble,” said McCallum. “Tyler is our starting free safety, he`s our kicker and he plays a little running back. This kid can really do it all, he’s a really good football player.”
Though the team has a lot going for it, they have a tough schedule that matches them up with stiff competition in their first few games.
They face the Twin Cities Predators, at their season opener on Saturday, but McCallum said the team wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have a tough schedule out of the gate,” he said. “Probably the toughest of any other JV team in the league. But we’re hoping to stay strong and show everybody that we’re for real … I expect this team to surprise a lot of folks this year.”
High expectations breed lofty goals, which this season’s Panthers have no shortage of. With the junior football market in Hamilton being the most saturated, by far, of any other market in the province, it’s important for the team to stay competitive to attract talent.
“We`re always competing for the best players at this age group in Hamilton,” said McCallum. “And, really, the best way to compete and bring people in is to build a great coaching staff and win football games and championships.”
And that means playoffs. McCallum plans to make a run for them. He plans to do well this year to attract top talent, but also because, well, “Like they say in Braveheart, we didn`t get dressed up for nothing.”