This year, St. Joan of Arc lost a number of big names, including the
game-breaking duo of quarterback Adam Zussino and receiver Jesse Alves
on offence, and Jon Obdam in the secondary on defence.
And as a result, they tried to play down their chances.
“We are very young this year and are our goal is to make it to
semifinals and see what happens,” Knights head coach Nick Nicoletta
wrote in an e-mail for our pre-season preview back in September.
“(There’s a) lot of parity this year, so any school can win the GB
championship this year.”
If that was the objective, then mission accomplished, as St. Joan of
Arc has already clinched first place and a bye into the final four in
But it’s no secret that, inside the locker room, the Knights have had a three-peat on their minds since Day 1.
"It's very important to us," said Knights quarterback Cody Shaw. "Our
coaches want it, our team wants it, and we're going to show the league
that we can do it."
It’s pretty heady for a football program that only began a dozen years ago, and didn’t win its first GBSSA crown until 2012.
But they’ve taken the program seriously, with as many coaches as you’ll see working with any squad in Simcoe County.
That’s led to specialized development in some areas that other schools, based on numbers, simply don’t get to work on.
Defensive coaches Paul Harrington and Paul Milne (who had coached
many of these players previously as the junior squad’s head coach)
regularly receive a lot of credit from players and other staff members
for their ability to help their athletes improve and their knack of
anticipating what the opposing offence will throw at them.
Speaking of game-calling, offensive co-ordinator Chris Forde (who
also holds the same title with the Huronia Stallions) has had a history
of frustrating opposing defences with some very advanced schemes and has
found a way to truly utilize some of his top athletes.
The coaching staff has played a big part in being able to handle the
turnover from 2013 to 2014, and deserve a lot of credit for doing so.
"They know their stuff, they know their techniques, and they're great
at calling the game from both sides of the ball," Shaw said. "It helps
us perform at our max, and that's what happens when you have good
"They help us learn to play the right way."
Still, there were some other teams building up their programs that
were considered very worthy challengers coming into this season.
Thursday’s game between the Knights and the Collingwood Fighting
Owls, the early favourite to challenge the defending champs, was the
game circled on the calendars of both teams – and many who follow
high-school football within Simcoe County – as the premier contest of
the regular season.
Despite missing a number of regulars, the Knights blew away
Collingwood 34-3 and were the far superior team in every facet of the
"We moved the ball offensively, got the stops on defence, and our special teams were phenomenal," Shaw said.
Thus far, it has been the Innisdale Invaders, a squad chock full of
natural skill and ability, that has played the closest contest with the
Knights this year, as St. Joan of Arc pulled out a 15-5 win in blustery
conditions a couple of weeks ago.
And since Thursday’s victory gave the Knights top spot, they
shouldn’t have to face Innisdale or Collingwood again until the finals,
where yet another championship will be on their mind.
"The goal is to win football games and it still is," Shaw said. "We're just going to keep winning, and that's our goal."
Friday Oct 17th & 24th Spirit Days
To support our environmental initiative to reduce plastic waste JOA has stopped the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. In their place we have installed three filterd water dispensers in the school. Students are encouraged to use reusable water bottles that they can fill at the water stations. To support this initiative JOA has branded and is selling its polycarbonate stylistic Knight's water bottle for $7.00. To promote their sale we have scheduled two spirit days: October 17th and 24th. On these spirit days students can substitute a JOA team jersey or JOA spirit wear for their uniform top only. A $2.00 donation is required to participate in each of the spirit days or a JOA Knight's Water Bottle. That is a great deal. A $7.00 water bottle gets you two free spirit days and you also effectively get the water bottle for $3.00.