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This year, the St. John Spartans of the Lanark County Intercounty School Athletic Association (LCIAA) has great expectations for their season.

“With the returnees and experience this team has, they should dominate LCIAA and compete at the very least for an EOSSA (Eastern Ontario Secondary School Association) title and fight for a chance to compete for a National Capital Bowl for the ‘AA’ division schools,” commented Spartans player Eric Martin.  “One thing this team lacks is a superstar but this team will win by committee, with the players mentioned above carrying the workload.”

“This team has some CIS calibre players, so this team will be very dangerous and for the most part relatively unknown.  Most of our players are returning from last year’s team. This team was finalists in LCIAA with a group that consisted mostly of grade 11 starters and I see no reason why they won’t continue their dominance of LCIAA.   St.John’s didn’t really lose anyone of significance, as most players are either returning for grade 12 or are beginning their fifth years.”

One advantage the team will have heading into the fall season is experience.

“This year we have eight starters returning for a fifth year and 12 fifth year guys staying overall, and not only that but we are missing only three starters from the team that went to the finals,” assessed Martin.  “As evident by our preseason workouts, we won’t have to spend so much time actually learning the playbook but instead perfecting it.”

“Our experience enables us to pick up from where we left off where as other teams have to start from the ground up with new players.”

Martin is expected to be a key returnee on offense.  At 6’0, 265 pounds, the Spartans lineman is versatile as he can play fullback or easily fill the tackle and guard positions. This past summer under the instruction and guidance of coach Karl Tolmie, Martin helped the Ottawa Myers Riders win the varsity Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) Championship. On the Spartans, he will provide leadership to the offensive line.

Additionally, 6’1 220 pound running back Michael Brown is another one to watch for on the offensive unit.

“Michael is a big punishing running back who has worked hard to get into better shape,” added Martin.  “He has attended preseason combines and has looked far more agile than last year.”
“We expect big offensive output from him this year if we are going to exceed.”

The team’s starting pivot will be Spencer Jordan.

“Spencer is a very good pocket passer with great arm strength,” evaluated Martin.  “His only downside can sometimes be confidence in his offensive line because he doesn’t like to scramble which can sometimes lead to easier sacks.”

“When Spencer is on his game, there aren’t many high school defensive backs that can defend against his decision making and ball placement.”

As for the defensive, it will be led on the secondary by Patrick Pankow.

“Patrick is also coming off an OVFL championship with the Myers Riders,” said Martin.  “Coach Gorgichuk of the Myers Riders turned this athlete into a film junkie.”

“Pankow’s football IQ is unmatched which is why he will more than likely be put at safety this season.”

Martin gave a preview of what to expect from both the offensive and defensive units on the field this fall.

“Defensively, we run a basic 4-3 formation and run just about anything out of that,” described Martin. “Our defence is full of athletes who are fundamentally sound and have great range especially from the linebacker position.”

“Coaches at this school emphasize fitness, and because of this they will be able to hit hard and wear the other team down.  Offensively St.John use a quick hitting, fast paced running game. The deep pass is a big part of the playbook especially with Spencer Jordan at the helm and the focus being on running backs Connor Sergeant and Michael Brown.”

As for the competition in the division, Martin expects it to be the usual suspects.

“For the past three years, LCIAA has been a two team league with both St. John and Almonte going to the finals each time,” explained the Spartans’ offensive lineman.  “St.John won two in a row and Almonte finished off this year with a championship.”

“Almonte is losing a lot of players which I think will be the difference. I expect Almonte to compete with us for the championship and be the one to beat. Both Almonte and St.John have junior teams that went to the finals as well so the young depth will be stocked with plenty of talent.”

What may lead the Spartans to the top is their tenacity and gridiron intelligence.

“St. John has a group of leaders who have very high football IQ and a group of athletes who can run their systems well,” added Martin.  “I think what sets this team apart is their enthusiasm and their desire to win.”

“They truly use an “all for one and one for all” mentality and it is this that keeps this team together even when things get tough.”

Ultimately, the Spartans focus in on reaching for the top and anything short may prove to be a disappointment.

“This team has the potential to be special,” expressed Martin.  “St John almost won the league championship against a much stronger and veteran Almonte team last year who was one game away from competing for a National Capital Bowl.”

“I think with the loss of veteran players such as Wes Mann, and Matt LaRose from Almonte there is no reason that this seasoned and experienced St John team shouldn’t win.”


2013 RECORD: 7-1 regular season, lost LCIAA finals to the eventual EOSSA champs Almonte Thunderbolts

HEAD COACH: Ryan Murphy (sixth season, only coach in Spartans history)

ASSISTANT COACHES: Dave Peters (Offensive Coordinator), Dave Mackenzie (Defensive Coordinator), Brian Peters (Defensive Line), Dan Allott (Offensive Line)



KEY RETURNEES: Michael Brown (running back), Eric Martin (offensive line), Spencer Jordan (running back), Patrick Pankow (defensive back – cornerback/safety)


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