By Dan Plouffe
After a two-year trial in the springtime, high school junior football is returning to its original fall home following a 22-20 vote last week at the National Capital Association’s annual meeting with the physical education department heads of each member school.
The news was welcomed by two Orléans schools that run teams at both the jr. and sr. levels, St. Peter and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, while the third, St. Matthew, has found a way to keep both of its programs alive despite being opposed to the move.
St. Matthew coach Al Rozman, who was able to coach both levels thanks to the different seasons, was worried they might have to ditch the jr. team without a coach but received news that Frank Farinaccio would be able to take over the Grade 9 and 10 group.
“We’re going to make things work,” says Rozman, who led the school to its first football city crown in 21 years this spring. “We’ve got a coach and we’re still going to be okay now.”
The season change was originally made due to a shortage of on-field officials to work games for both jr. and sr. in the fall, but that problem seems to have been solved in large part thanks to the University of Ottawa’s referee development program.
Done out of necessity at first, the spring season became popular for some schools that were able to have one set of coaches and one set of equipment for both teams, as the league grew from eight teams to 11.
But detractors didn’t like the shorter spring season because it allowed very little time to practice between games. And the biggest drawback in the view of St. Peter and Sir Wil was that jr. boys’ rugby was also in the spring, and since many athletes typically play both sports, it was tough to run both at the same time.
Sir Wil – which plans to run junior and senior football teams next year as long as the student interest is there – didn’t field a junior boys’ rugby team this past spring, while St. Peter – with its larger population – was still able to play junior boys’ rugby, although they weren’t quite as competitive the past two springs.
The season change won’t affect Colonel By at all, notes athletic director Pat Lacasse, whose school fields a varsity (combined junior and senior) football team.
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