#CFCHSFB (ONT – GBSSA) End of one era, beginning of another for Phoenix alumni

The closing of Barrie Central Collegiate is forcing the transition of many Barrie students into other Simcoe County high schools in September 2016.

With the closure of the school also comes the end of the football program. This means that numerous football players will be wearing new uniforms come next fall.

Among the programs receiving Central alumni are the Barrie North Vikings, the Innisdale Invaders, and the Eastview Wildcats, based on a school board-induced Attendance Area Review. Other students attending other schools not apart of the Review will not be eligible to suit up at their new home next year.

Students choosing to transition into the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic .istrict School Board (SMCDSB) will be eligible to play for their home school based on their attendance boundaries, but, again, will be ineligible should the opt to attend an out-of-area school.

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One of those moving on to Barrie North in September is current Grade 9 Seth Allen, who says his only year at Central was extremely valuable.

“I think that getting that one year not only helps me at North but also it was my first time ever playing football,” expressed the rookie. “So it definitely gives me more confidence in playing more football [at North next year]”

Another Phoenix junior forced to transition next September is Grade 10 Molham Essa, who will be attending Innisdale Secondary School. He also took a lot from his time in the red, white, and black.

“In the two years of attending central I learned that football isn’t just a sport to me,” he recalled. “I realized it’s a way for me express my true desire for winning and show off my skill. I will gladly join the invaders senior team with my knowledge of being a Phoenix and use that to my advantage in showing the rest of their school that the flame will never burn out. I’m going to take my skills and knowledge of the game but also my appreciation for the sport and show them I’ll work hard and aim for victory with my dedication and diligence.”

“Most kids would be intimidated by a larger team but in all honesty i am looking forward to it,” Essa expressed. “I feel like I’ll fit right in with the Invaders because I have many friends on that team who also compete in other sports with me as well and I know they’ll welcome me and my fellow Central friends with open arms.”

Adding to the list of Phoenix moving on to a new home is second-year player Matthew Eliot, who will be going to Eastview in September.

“It’s going to be a bit of a learning curve but I am planning on playing hard next year,” Eliot said. “I also plan on brining my training that I got from central and teaching it to my fellow teammates.”

One of those soon-to-be Phoenix alumnus that will be moving school boards next fall is Central captain and cornerback Jordan Travis. He will be join the dynasty that is the St. Joan of Arc Knights.

“I cant wait to be apart of that program,” Travis said of being a Knight. “That program may help me go somewhere with this wonderful game.”

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Allen also points out that being able to play his new team this season is an advantage as he moves over to the Phoenix’s longtime rival.

“It makes it a bit easier even though I’m a friendly guy and I make friends with teammates very easily,” he expressed. “But it will help a lot with moving to a new team.”

Eliot says that, although very few of his teammates from Central will be accompanying him to his new school, he doesn’t expect the move to be very challenging.

“I hope it’s not going to be too difficult,” commented the sophomore. “I just try and go with the flow and I seem to be a likable person so that should help too.”

The Knights have a multitude of rep coaches and players from the Ontario Football Conference’s (OFC) Huronia Stallions, something that is a major part of their success. Travis, a Stallion himself, is relishing the opportunity to play with them at Joan of Arc next fall.

“It will help [to have them around] because I will know that I can relax,” he said. I just have to worry about the game; because all my friendships are already established.”

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The rookie cornerback says that he thinks he impressed in that mid-season affair with the Vikings.

“[Their coaches noticed] that I can jump and that I’m pretty decent at sweep defence and run defence,” Allen mentioned. “But I have some work to do when it comes to pass coverage.”

Essa believes that the possibility of having some of the same coaches as he did at Central when he moves to Innisdale is a major advantage.

“Knowing I’m may have some of the same coaches who made me who I am today makes me feel at ease,” he said. It will be hard knowing I’m not going to be on the same team with the same faces I as this year and also they are the reason I enjoy the sport. They’ve not only helped me become a better athlete but a better person as well and I would be extremely happy knowing they’ll be there to watch me finish my high school football career.”

Eliot will have some help from some current Wildcats when he arrives at Eastview next year.

“I know some of their guys that play there now,” he alluded. “So I know if I’m having any troubles I know who to go to.”

Switching school boards, and therefore athletic assoications, to the much weaker Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County (CSASC) does not seem to matter to Travis.

“[Switching school boards and associations] will neither help or hinder my development,” stated the 2015 Phoenix captain. “I think football is a game where the individual development is just as important [as team improvement] and I will continue to work by myself to keep growing as a player.”

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Although Barrie Central did not field a senior team for their final kick at the can, there are still many current seniors that look forward to hitting the gridiron again for their new schools in 2016.

Curtis Shepperdson, who will be taking the field at Barrie North next year, is one of them.

“It hurts a lot not having a team [at Central this year],” he said. “It just makes me wanna play 110 percent more next year.”

Another of the seniors forced to find new residence is Nick Savard, whose first senior season was lost due to the lack of a senior squad at Central this year. Despite the fact he will not have played organized football in close to two years by the time he takes the field at Innisdale next year, he doesn’t expect there to be any rust.

“I’m rust free,” Savard exclaimed. “Not having a team this year and loving the game so much is only motivation moving forward.”

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Although Sheppardson will be a fifth year student and fourth year player (because of the lost season this year), he isn’t planning to take a huge leadership role with his new team.

“I don’t think I’ll take a big leadership role next year,” he commented. “I think I’ll let the Grade 12s take that role since they’ve been waiting for it for awhile.”

Savard has an extensive knowledge of the game of football, something that is a big asset and one he will use to his benefit.

“My knowledge and skill of the game will be 100% given to the [Innisdale] football program next year,” Savard stated. “It helps knowing how good Innisdale’s program is and it should be fun to be part of.”

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Shepperdson has an immense passion for his current school, and will undoubtedly carry it over to his new one next fall.

“My pride for central is in explainable,” he admitted. “I would do anything for that school and the kids in it. They’re my family.”

Savard puts it simply when asked what he hopes to bring to an Invader bunch that, although they had their struggles this year, picking up only one win in eight games including the playoffs, has had a great deal of success in years past.

“I hope to do the best I can,” he said. I hope to help in bringing them back to the success of the last few years and hopefully win a championship.”

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