Reid and Demers lead Phoenix
St. Francis principal Jim Whittard has been keeping upwards of 50 kids after school since classes started.
The large number doesn’t speak to an out-of-control discipline problem at the school, but rather a reflection of Whittard’s role as the new head coach of the school’s football program.
Whittard, who took over from Sean Jones, who is now coaching and teaching at Blessed Trinity, has seen St. Francis numbers bolstered from players from Holy Cross. It was anticipated that six former Raiders would join the St. Francis squad after Holy Cross’ football program folded.
Whittard sees no problems with the large number of players attending practice and it reminds him of the jam-packed roster he carried last year for the school’s successful boys hockey program.
“They knew I was managing a big group and the parents and the kids were supportive,” he said. “I expect these guys here come from the same mold.”
Whittard isn’t making any projections on how his team will fare this year.
“I asked the kids to give up 100 per cent, play hard, think clearly and good things will happen,” he said.
Whittard will rely on Ethan Reid and Mitch Demers to help create the environment where good things can happen.
“Mitch and Ethan are really the lifeblood of the program,” Whittard said. “They are the heart of the team and they are out here every day getting things ready and they are enthusiastic, which all the other kids are feeding off of.”
Reid is excited about the 2018 season.
“My goal in the high school season is to take our team as far as we can go,” the 17-year-old said. “I feel we have a lot of talented players who get overlooked by every team.
“We’re a small school, but we have 50 kids who are dedicated, coming out all the time and working hard.”
He believes the Phoenix have a shot at winning a Niagara Catholic Athletic Association championship.
“It’s going to to take dedication, hard work and a lot of heart.”
Reid is entering his fourth season as the quarterback of the Phoenix and he will be backed up by multi-sport athlete Quinton Duemo.
Whittard describes Reid as a special kid.
“He is smart, athletic and has lots of power,” he said. “One thing I appreciate coming from my background is he takes great care in his craft.
“It takes a special kid to be breaking things down and being enthusiastic about the boring parts when you are working on the little nuances.”
Reid is a much different player compared to the skinny Grade 9 QB that stepped on the field in 2015.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming into high school,” he said. “The first year went really well and I took our team to the championship game but we lost to Ridgeway.
“Every year is about learning new things.”
Each season, he has gained more confidence.
“Now I will throw a pass up the middle while in Grade 9, I wouldn’t make that decision.”
At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Reid is built like a prototypical quarterback and he has garnered plenty of interest from Canadian university football scouts. Every school in Ontario with the exception of York and the University of Ottawa have expressed an interest in him. He is a long ways away from making a decision.
“I am planning to come back for 12B (second year of Grade 12) and that’s the plan right now,” he said. “I don’t know what I want to do in post secondary and it’s always good to come back for an extra year.
“It’s better to take that extra time.”
This summer, Reid served as backup quarterback to Travis Arp with the Niagara Spears Varsity football team.
“My next step will be starting for the Niagara Spears this upcoming summer,” he said.
He got in a few games this past summer and was content with his role on the Spears.
“When Travis is playing in front of you, you have to learn as much as you can from him.”
Reid did exactly that.
“I learned how to be a better leader, in general, and being better at preparation before games, watching film and how he practises his footwork.”