While high school football may be generally moving out to the suburbs, it’s still thriving here at West Hill Collegiate Institute.
As the number of teams dwindles across the city, West Hill’s program continues to have strong junior and senior programs.
The only problem, coaches say, was trying to get enough equipment for each player. Football is so popular this season that the junior program is fielding 60 bodies.
“Between the juniors and seniors, over 100 sets of football equipment, that’s fairly expensive,” says Carter Livingstone, coach of the senior football team. “We were lucky enough to get a bit more funding, so everyone’s outfitted.”
Livingstone says football is a costly program to run.
“Board wide, there are less and less football teams,” he says. “Because it is a very expensive sport to run at schools, with budgets declining, it’s hard to support a program.”
At West Hill however, Livingstone says football has been constant since the school was created in 1955.
“We’ve been pretty firm,” he says. “We think it’s a great thing for our young boys to learn.”
Kiefer Tulk plays defensive tackle for the senior team, and started playing football back in Grade 9.
“The football program here is prestigious, it’s known,” he says. “If people are playing West Hill they know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Livingstone says the senior Warriors are always trying to get back to the Metro Bowl, which they won back in the early ’90s. Their success varies each year.
“It was three years ago we made it to the Metro semifinals which was a big year for us, and since then we haven’t had as much success,” he says.
“It’s a year-to-year type thing, it depends on who we get back, and who other schools get back. But we’re always competitive.”
Despite two losses to open the season, 17-0 to Malvern and a last minute 20-12 defeat to Cedarbrae, the senior team remains positive they can turn it around and make the playoffs.
Livingstone says they’ll probably have to win at least two of their last three games to do so.
“We’re progressing,” Livingstone says. “If we can get better every single game and every single week at practice, in the long run it’ll play out.
“It can be a longer season if we finish the season strong.”
No matter what happens this year, Livingstone says it’s important for football to be an option for the boys at school.
“What would be a great thing is to see the growth of both the junior and senior football at West Hill to continue to grow and develop young players,” he says.
“Not only football players but life skills. We teach them a bunch of skills out there. It’s great especially for our demographic that these kids stay active and be a part of a team.”