Visiting Central Tech begins their 2012 football campaign against fellow powerhouse Richview Collegiate Institute on Friday (2 p.m. ET) after both teams were eliminated from the city semifinals last season.
Richview succumbed to eventual city champion, Northern S.S., a team that Central Tech defeated during the regular season. However, Central Tech were blown out by Agincourt 34-0 in the semfinal.
The season opener pits two rivals that wouldn’t have played head-to-head until the playoffs, but the Etobicoke-based Richview was moved to the TDSSAA South Division for the 2012 season from the West.
Led by a veteran group of players, Central Tech is looking to avenge their playoff setback after going undefeated in the regular season. Defensive coordinator Jeff Hunter believes that the storied program has worked out the kinks that prevented the team from playoff glory.
“I think if we play the same solid defence that we did last year, and then score a little bit more, we’re on our way. We had a key injury to our running back last year in the tournament when we got to the playoffs,” Hunter said after Wednesday’s practice.
Most schools usually don’t have the luxury of returning their athlete of the year, but Central Tech’s star linebacker Terrell Allert-Nairne leads an experienced team with a very strong work ethic.
“We do have Terrell, and we have a couple of other veterans and that is huge, because we really believe here that you’ve got to lead by example and that your mouth doesn’t do the talking out on the football field,” Hunter said.
“Here we got guys who are running wind sprints at 6:30, well after practice is done because they want to be special players. And so our leaders evoke that type of an attitude for everyone, and show them that you can be anything you want to be with hard work, hard effort and support.”
Earlier this summer, Toronto mayor Rob Ford proposed a $1-million field to be installed at Central Tech. While the project has yet to commence, Hunter says that the school would gladly accept a new surface, one that ought to have been replaced years ago.
“My understanding is that we’re next on the list and we’re probably about two years away from the full (renovation) here,” Hunter said.
“Tech’s got a lot of kids, we’re very neglected as far as finances go, our field is a dust bucket with weeds, the kids deserve better than that. It’s long overdue, thank God that the mayor- this mayor- has stepped up with that.”
Central Tech and Richview have a shared history that dates back before the current roster was born. Richview defeated Central Tech twice in the Metro Bowl final, in 1991 and 2001, respectively.
In the off-season, many of Central Tech’s personnel play for the Metro Toronto Wildcats of the Ontario Varsity Football League in the summer.
While some may worry about overexertion, Hunter encourages the extra games for his team.
“There’s no replacement for experience in football, and the best experience you can get in football is playing games. It’s always a great benefit for guys to get more coaching, and the more games they can get under their belt, the better.”