2018 team preview (ON): CFC50 STM Knights poised and ready to defend #1 ranking

The St. Thomas More Knights find themselves at the top of the mountain in Canadian high school football, coming into the 2018 season as No. 1 on the CFC50 rankings. The Knights are red hot, going 11-0 last season and 20-1 over the last two years combined. The team has won three straight OFSAA titles, the Knights are in the midst of what the sports world would call a dynasty.

Head Coach Claudio Silvestri is the mastermind at helm and though he has won his fair share of silverware over the years, he is solely focused on 2018.

“Our expectations for our team are to be competitive and outwork our opponents every week. Our goal never changes, winning the HWCDSB championship is always a challenge and an honour and we will work towards that goal. Anything after that is a bonus.”

For the Knights, there is no chance to stop and appreciate their accolades. There is always work to do and ways to improve in order to maintain their No. 1 ranking. Silvestri alludes to this attitude that the team developed during their undefeated 2017 year.

“Last year we had a tremendous attitude from our entire roster. Every week new players were called upon to step up on and off the field and as a leader. Grade 11s were thrown in the fire and they answered the call, guys who were second or third string players the year before became starters and impact players. 2017 was possibly the best example of an entire team effort from August until December we have seen as a coaching staff.”

Most of the Knights remain focused, not on their No. 1 ranking but on having a successful 2018 in order to extend their time at the top.

“I don’t think we feel much pressure as a team to repeat. The plan’s always been to go out and take it week by week, handle our business, control what we can control and let everything else work itself out and that’s what we’re going to do,” says quarterback Ethan Hillock.

Silvestri has been intrigued by his quarterback’s ability and composure.

“He has been constantly watching film from last year and correcting his own game as well as scouting other teams. He is a strong armed QB given his baseball background and over the past off-season has also taken a strong leadership role.”

The Knights are united by their preparation and work ethic, all believe in the goal and are prepared to work as hard as possible to achieve it.

“We were the number one ranked team last year, it was a great feat but now that means absolutely nothing. We have a new team which may even be better than last year’s as long as we stay focused. Lastly, the ranking gives our whole team a great confidence but as a team we use each other for motivation, no one wants to let their teammate next to them down,” says defensive back Ethan Monaghan.

Linebacker Josiah Clarke joins Monaghan on defense, and the two form one of the most physical defenses in the country. The big, imposing defense is a big reason why the Knights find themselves in the position they are in.

“I believe what makes our defense so special is how well we understand our assignments because that frees us up just to go make plays. Also, I think we are the most physical team and all 12 guys love to hit,” says Clarke.

The talent is there to repeat but they are many talented teams in the GHAC, so what puts the Knights over the edge? Almost in unison, the team will answer it is their dedication and commitment. While many teams are talented, few feature a roster unanimously dedicated to winning as the Knights.

“Kids show up to practice every single day and are ready to work. Then we go home and we put in more work because we are so dedicated to each other but also to winning. That goes for the coaches as well, they are the most dedicated coaches in the country. They put in countless hours of work in practice and after hours so that we can win. That’s what I feel separates us from every other school in the country,” says Monaghan.

St. Thomas More Knights (GHAC – Hamilton, Ontario)

2017 RECORD: 11-0

#CFC50 2018 RANKING: No. 1

HEAD COACH: Claudio Silvestri

KEY LOSSES: Michael Chris-Ike, Ryan Leder, Savaughn Magnaye-Jones, Andrew Copeland, Matteo Bevilaqua

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Edgerrin Williams (Rec.), Evan Hillock (QB) , Nathan Paulin (C), Josiah Clarke (LB), Ethan Monaghan (DB), Robert Kern (LB), Kristian Stewart (DE)

X-FACTOR: “Our X factor is too difficult to name, we have a number of young players and young players from last year who we foresee being able to make a big impact for our team.”

 

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