X-men mark spot for Howe
Colin Howe is devastated the Niagara Spears football season is delayed and may not happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is definitely tough,” the 19-year-old Fort Erie resident said. “I have been playing with some of those guys for my entire football career up until this point.
“We all played for the Spears and Generals and played against each other in high school. I was hoping for one more year with them before we all go our separate ways to different universities across the country.”
The 12B student at Greater Fort Erie Secondary School committed to St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., last September. He had interest from several others schools before honing in on St. FX after visiting the school.
“I immediately fell in love with the place,” he said. “It’s a pretty small school which I like because Fort Erie is a pretty small town and I’m not really into huge crowds,” he said. “They are usually also a pretty good contender for the AUS (Atlantic University Sport) championship which makes it more fun when you are winning rings.”
Howe also heard good things about the Nova Scotia school from Spears assistant coach Brad Martin, who is a ST. FX alumnus and a good friend of the university’s head coach Gary Waterman
“He had great things to say about the experience there and the great education I would be getting,” he said. “I am going into sociology and it will be an amazing education and good for me in the long run.”
Former Spears teammate Chase Bowden, who signed with the school in 2019, also encouraged Howe to come to St. Francis Xavier.
“All those things sealed the deal for me.”
To prepare for his first season of AUS ball, the six-foot, 310 pounder has been lifting weights in his basement and doing FaceTime workouts with his personal trainer, Doug Willick. He has also been working on his long snapping.
To succeed at the next level, he feels he needs to improve his quickness off the line.
“I am usually pretty quick off the line, but being able to make a read as fast as I am moving off the line will just get me to that next level and hopefully allow me to start by the end of my first season.”
Howe isn’t merely content to just get on the field his first season. He wants to make an immediate impact.
“I believe I have the ability to start by the end of my first season if I get dialled in and that’s what I am aiming for,” he said. “You always want to aim high because you might end up surprising yourself.”
He can’t wait to get started.
“It’s getting to the next level, getting the coaching, being part of a big team and the overall experience of being part of a university football program.”
If things return to normal, Howe will head to Nova Scotia in the middle of August.
Howe started playing minor football in 2010 with the Fort Erie Longhorns and that same year suited up with the Niagara Generals travel program. Three or four years later, he suited up for the Niagara Spears and competed for that travel organization at the bantam, junior varsity and varsity level. This year would have been his seventh season with the Spears and his third at the varsity level. At the high school level, he started with Ridgeway-Crystal Beach Blue Devils and concluded with the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons. He was a defensive tackle and long snapper with the Spears and with the Gryphons he was fullback, defensive tackle, defensive end, offensive guard and long snapper.
“I played pretty much wherever they needed me,” he said.
Greater Fort Erie head coach Dave Sauer, who also coached Howe with the Longhorns and the Generals, feels Howe’s greatest attribute is his intensity.
“He is a great physical specimen, but his intensity takes him up a level,” he said. “He was always up for game day and we never had to worry about him giving his 100 per cent on the field. We will really miss that intensity at GFESS on game days and on the practice field.”
How always strived to make himself better and didn’t settle with his skill set.
“He developed himself into a great long snapper, played both sides of the ball, could play multiple positions and he never complained about what we did with him,” Sauer said. “That intensity and desire to play will get him on the field and GFESS, the coaches and myself will miss him.”
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