Can Newmarket come together and produce as a team in the 2012 OVFL season?
One year removed from their inaugural season in the OVFL, Newmarket Bucs’ Varsity Football believes they are ready to bust through the hurdles and make a huge gain.
The task is enormous, considering they scored only eight points per game last season while allowing an average of 30 en route to a 1-7 season. But the atmosphere is much different around the team’s facilities in 2012.
“We’ve got everyone here for the right reasons this year,” says Head Coach Mike Lepore, who built the varsity program in 2011. “There’s a huge will to win, a lot more experience and that makes a big difference.”
Coach Lepore will welcome back about half of his roster from 2011, which was surprisingly stingy on defence, yet lacked skill and experience.
The Bucs were second in both passing and rushing yards allowed last season going into the final two weekends of the regular season, and are hoping to build on the positives from last season rather than dwell on the negatives.
On defence, the Bucs run a 4-4 stack system, generally used to take advantage of a group of smaller, quicker players.
“It’s simple, basic, and requires our guys to play with discipline,” says Coach Lepore. “We’re going to read (opposing offences) and react, not overreact from the start,” he says.
One of the system’s foundations is to hide linebackers from the offensive line, which could provide explosive results considering the addition of Shaquille Davis, a 6”3, 195 pound Defensive Back poised to play tier II NCAA football this fall.
“Our linebacker core is the strongest in the league,” says Coach Lepore. The Bucs will also turn to Conor Smith, a skilled tackler with good form, and Victor Hyslop, a linebacker who reads the game exceptionally well, to combat rival offences.
In the secondary, Orion Edwards will carry the load to ground opponent air attacks, a cornerback who has already attracted considerable interest from CIS football programs across the country.
A major weakness last year for the Bucs was the lack of capable lineman, and after losing some big players from the line over the winter, it remains to be seen whether the defence can overcome that serious gap.
Offensive coordinator Josh Scott likes to run the option, and has an arsenal of weapons capable of producing more points than last year.
Craig Myers plays both quarterback and tailback, and is gifted with great vision and speed that creates gaps in defences much like Tim Tebow.
Wide Receivers Luca Celebre and Rosario Arcuri are both great route runners with nice hands who can haul in the ball and fight for multiple yards after the catch.
Mitch Frasor is a bullish running back who can read defences and has a knack for finding that extra hole to break loose upfield. Overall, Ontario university scouts are already looking at around eight players from the Bucs’ roster.
Though its going to take a lot to turn a one-win team into a competitive force in the top half of the standings, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic when assessing the 2012 Newmarket Bucs.
Their season begins Saturday against the Metro Toronto Wildcats, a team that recently lost their tailback to a broken leg earlier this month. Coach Lepore consequently expects them to air it out, but provides this warning:
“If they do that with my secondary, they’re in for some trouble.”