Reds have new coach and motivated back
New Denis Morris senior football coach Antony Volante isn’t making any predictions for the upcoming season.
“This is a new experience for me and I’m hoping things go well each week,” he said. “It’s day to day.”
Volante is a former Reds player (2002-2006) and he is in his third year of teaching at his alma mater. He had been helping Andy Cecchini with the junior squad before taking over the senior team in 2018.
“It’s good so far,” he said, prior to practice Tuesday. “There’s a lot of returning guys, which is nice, and a lot of dedicated guys.”
One area that is lacking is depth.
“We don’t have a mass army here,” Volante said. “We only have 25.”
Having that size of roster means the Reds will need to remain healthy and be fit.
“Fitness is going to be a big thing because we have guys going both ways,” he said.
Three-year senior James Holt is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“Although we are low in numbers, we have people who want to play and skilled players,” the 18-year-old said. “It’s definitely possible to win a championship.”
The desire to play is the most important characteristic in Holt’s eyes.
“You can be good or you can try, but when you mix those two together, that’s what makes the team that much better.”
Crucial in three-down football is having a quarterback who can throw the ball and Volante feels DM has capable replacements for the departed Travis Arp.
“We have a good competition going right now,” Volante said. “There’s Josh Barber who is in Grade 11 and Connor Delage who is in Grade 12. They’re both working hard and they both look good so far.”
Having two capable quarterbacks would be a great problem to have.
“If one guy goes down or if one guy is not playing well, there’s another guy who is ready to go,” he said. “You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.”
When the Reds run the ball, they will look to Holt to lead the way.
“He is a solid running back and a good defender,” Volante said. “He’s a playmaker and he will be our guy this year.”
Holt brings a lot to the table.
“He has great wheels and he is strong,” he said. “Last year, he was big and this year he is even more committed to working out. He is a big boy.”
In 2017, the 6-foot-2, 200 pounder played running back and linebacker for the Reds and expects to do the same in 2018.
“It was the most fun I ever had playing football,” the 12B student said. “Although I get hit, I also get to do some hitting on the other side of the ball.”
To prepare for this season, the former Niagara Spears player added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame.
“I cut out all the fooling around over the summer and actually worked out,” he said. “And I ate a lot of (proper) food.
His motivation was simple.
“It’s my last season at DM so I want to make it count and hopefully win a championship.”
In the longer term, he wants to play football at the university level.
“I have to get my grades up, score more touchdowns and anything I can do to make me look better to the scouts.”
In his Grade 11 year, Holt scored a pair of long touchdowns for the Reds and attracted the interest of university football scouts. Last season, despite scoring a touchdown in every game that Denis Morris played, not a single scout approached him.
“When you play that much better the next year and you think you really deserve to those offers and you don’t get them, it makes me want to push even harder to show them I can play at the next level.”