At 3-0, football Griffins are officially for real

Article online since September 24th 2009, 8:35
At 3-0, football Griffins are officially for real
Normally, you can’t judge a team – or a season – on the basis of one game.

On the other hand, three games – all of them wins – is probably a pretty good indication the 2009 Horton football Griffins are indeed for real.

Despite the team’s 3-0 record so far, I had heard rumblings in the pre-season football at Horton might be in trouble, due in large part to a shortage of committed players. After speaking to Griffins’ head coach Alec Hyndman and new assistant and defensive coordinator Steve Melanson, both were optimistic numbers would improve once the students were back in school.

That has indeed happened; as of their game September 20, Horton had a decent complement of around 45 players, meaning only a handful are required to go both ways (which might have happened anyway).

So far, the Griffins have looked very good in all three of their games, exhibiting an ability to put points on the board in bunches (37, 34 and 34 points scored in their first three games).

It took the defense a little longer to round into shape, but Horton allowed 29 points in its first win, then 21, then just 14. In their home game Sept. 20 against Dartmouth, the 14 points the visitors scored came after Horton already had built a 27-0 halftime lead.

The Griffins’ offense starts with quarterback Nick Bawn. If there’s a Most Improved Player award in the high school league, give it to Bawn right now. In the two games I’ve seen, Bawn has played with a lot of poise, both as a passer and, when required, as a runner. In addition – and this is the mark of a good quarterback – his play is making all his teammates better.

Not that some of them need a whole lot of help. Take Grant Crowell, who has scored a team-high nine touchdowns in three games on offense while also assuming a leadership role on defense. Crowell – who, like Bawn, has both grown and matured a lot in the past year – has had touchdowns on offense and on defense.

Some of the improvement in the Griffins has been due to a handful of former Valley Bulldogs in their first year of high school football. Players like Adam Melanson, Robert Adams, Will Stewart and Doug Spriggs, all of whom have seen some action on both sides of the ball; have injected both talent and confidence into the Horton lineup.

Not only that: all these players are only in Grade 10 and can, hopefully, look forward to two more years of high school football.

The addition of Steve Melanson, a former Football Nova Scotia Coach of the Year with the Valley Bulldogs, to the Griffins’ coaching staff has made all the other coaches – and the staff as a whole – better. Hyndman has generally done a good job as head coach, but the addition of another quality coach with a solid background (Hyndman and Melanson both played at Acadia) can’t hurt, and the combination is reaping immediate dividends.

After a bye this week, Horton is back in action Oct. 2 in Wolfville against C.P. Allen, which had lost its first three games of the season. The remainder of the Griffins’ schedule has Avon View (at home), Citadel (in Halifax), Auburn Drive (in Halifax) and J.L. Ilsley (at home).

All these games are winnable, except maybe Citadel (and right now, I wouldn’t even bet against that), which should make for an interesting rest of the season.

If anyone needed proof Valley schools taking the plunge into high school football has been successful, consider the Sept. 11 Horton vs C.K. game, which attracted more than 1,000 fans to Raymond Field.

Source: The Advertiser

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