Ah, football season. It’s the time of year when everyone’s in sweaters, the horizon is colourful, and people are gathered together on Friday nights to watch their local high school team compete. But for the past two seasons, a team that was once known as a powerhouse has started to take a tumble for the worse.
The Bernice MacNaughton Highlanders have only won two games in the past two seasons, and the reasons why can be traced back to a few keys points: no solidified quarterback, changes in coaching staff, and commitment issues.
Over the past three seasons, there have been three different quarterbacks, which eliminates the consistency the offence needs with its leader. This upcoming season’s quarterback will be Will McNally, who will be playing his second season behind the ball. Will states that the team “needs to have faith, even when things begin to get difficult,” and that, “Our captains need to step up as leaders of the team this year to help motivate our fans and players around us.” The fact that it will be McNally’s second season as the quarterback will give the team the offensive boost it needs to secure wins this season. Coach Ed Wasson agrees with that, saying, “Expectations are high. McNally returning as QB puts us in a good position.” McNally will be one of eight players from BMHS trying out for this year’s U18 New Brunswick team.
The reformed Highlanders coaching staff will be entering their second season together; therefore, the unit will be gelled and working efficiently. One of the returning coaches is Evan Melanson, an offensive line coach who has experience with winning (he was a provincial champion with BMHS as a player). Also, Aubrey Ellis is a returning coach, who put together a workout program for the upcoming season. This program should keep the team in shape come August, and Coach Ed Wasson thinks that for the team to be successful, “We need to up our off season workouts. We are at a deficit because we don’t have the facilities that accommodate a football team and it is booked for staff during the prime time after school.”
The biggest key to the team’s success this upcoming season will lie in the hands of the players, and if they’re willing to commit or not. There have been issues in this area over the past two seasons, which has contributed to the decline of games the team has won. McNally agrees, stating “We had some commitment issues last year and early on in [this year’s] off season we have already begun working on these problems.” Last year’s unit had around 35 players, which diminished sometimes to numbers in the low 20s. This year, the Highlanders will be striving to get 40+ players out there on the gridiron. MacNaughton is the second smallest school in the 12 Man league, so for the team to succeed, “We need all our best athletes to work together,” says Coach Wasson.
This year’s team has some high expectations, as the coaches will be coming into their second season together, Will McNally enters his second season running the offense, and the team has already begun working on issues to make this off season very productive. The school may be small in numbers compared to other schools in the 12 Man league, but if everyone commits to the program, the expectations that the team has should be met.