QB O’Flaherty on the radar

O’Flaherty loves the rush of the game.

10 years is a long time to be playing a sport. Declan O’Flaherty has been doing just that since he started in 2007 with the South Calgary (Atom) Colts. He played with them until 2013 when he played on the bantam Calgary Selects team. The Zone 3 Calgary Summer Games is where he played next and with the Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats for his 2014-15 high school year. He then moved to the Centennial Coyotes for his 2016 high school year.

In all that time, Declan has earned numerous awards. He has been the team captain ten times, both the Colts and Bobcats Offensive Player of the Year, a Gold medalist for the Alberta summer games in 2014, city provincial champion multiple times, and Most Valuable Player for the Calgary Colts.

The list goes on with the number of accolades O’Flaherty has acquired over the years, and it is with this effort and passion that has let football go from being just a game, to a lifestyle.

“To me football is more than just a game, it’s a lifestyle. The friendships you build will last forever and the feeling you get knowing everyone one of your brothers has your back is incredible. The game of football has truly established who I am as an individual teaching me things such as commitment, discipline and character. Its rules are applicable anywhere in life and it has taught me to be selfless for my teammates and family.”
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This type of commitment doesn’t start on its own. Declan’s father planted the seed at a young age. “My father started teaching me how to throw a football when I was three years old and I haven’t stopped loving the game since. One significant event that motivated me to play myself, was receiving a signed football from former Calgary Stampeder Jermaine Copeland when I was four years old.” 

From there, Declan has pursued football and has only improved each year he has played. When asked what he loves most about the game he replied, “What I love most is the rush of adrenaline you get when you or your teammates makes a big play that changes the momentum of the game. The feeling of chills that rushes up your body is indescribable and makes you hungry for more.” 

He’s going to need those chills and that adrenaline when he goes to face Ernest Manning in the quarter finals of playoffs in the division 1, first round of playoffs in Calgary. The Coyotes are 5-1 this year and have been on a six game winning streak. They most recently pulled off an impressive win against powerhouse Notre Dame Pride 28-0. Last year, Declan’s team beat the other traditional powerhouse, St. Francis Browns, and went on to the Tier 1 Alberta final four.

We reached out to Head Coach Garth Melrose of the Centennial Coyotes and asked him a few questions about what he thought about his starting QB, “Declan is one of the most impressive young men I’ve had the opportunity to coach.” stated Coach.

With Declan at the helm, he is determined to win it all. “I have a very strong team with a lot of talent. The Centennial Coyotes are 5-1 entering the playoff against Earnest Manning. We are on a 6 game winning streak (One being an exhibition game against William Aberhart).”

As quarterback, you need to great at all aspects of the game. Declan enjoys the cerebral part of the position and the strategy that comes with it. Coach Melrose agrees with this as he says Declan “takes a business-like approach to playing quarterback. During practice, film and in game day he always brings his ‘A Game’.”

“I like the mentality that comes with being a quarterback. You can not solely rely on your arm because every play is like a chest match. You have to be able to determine defensive coverages and blitzes, and on top that be able make accurate throws to a moving receiver. At this point after 10 years, I have learned to slow each play down and also manipulate a defense and I love that influence I can have” says Declan.

“What makes Declan a special quarterback is his toughness. He steps into every throw regardless of pressure. He has taken some big hits this year and turned those plays into touchdowns or big receptions. Without his willingness to sacrifice his body our points for column is definitely not as high.” said Coach Melrose.

When asked who he models his style of play after, he states that NFL quarterback, Drew Brees, is a player that he tries to emulate as Declan appreciates Brees’ play as well as his other intangible attributes. “I like to model my game after Drew Brees because we have a similar stature and his ability make accurate throws in any situation is amazing. Not only is he the most accurate quarterback in the NFL, he is a true leader and legend of the game.”

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Being a true leader on the field also needs to transfer to off the field. Declan has plans to play football at the next level while pursuing a post secondary education. “I haven’t fully committed to a program of study, but I’m leaning towards commerce.”

“In the classroom, Declan is a stud. He will be our nominee for the Harry Hood Award for the division 1 top football player.” replied Coach Melrose when we asked about him off the field.

While he hasn’t been on any official visits, the recruiting process has been going well and Declan has been in contact with a few coaches. He hasn’t committed anywhere as of yet, but he has a few schools on his list for consideration and states that “it is an awesome feeling when a university coach contacts you acknowledging their interest in your talents and abilities. It makes me proud to know that my gift is respected.”

“I have not committed anywhere however I am considering the following schools; St. Francis Xavier University, the University of Regina, Queens University, McGill University, Western University, the University of Calgary, the University of Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser University, Carleton University, Acadia University, and the University of British Columbia.”

Going from high school to the post secondary level is a major jump. When asked how well he thinks he will respond to that adjustment Declan responded, “I believe I will be able to adjust well because I rely on the mental side of the game more than the physical and my ability to be a leader at any level.”

But the physical part still remains to be an important part of the game, one that Declan won’t be neglecting. He plans on training hard to improve his strength and speed.

“There is always room for improvement and this off season I will be focusing my attention on my strength and speed. It is essential that I am able to physically compete with my teammates and opponents and the more of an athlete you are, the more of an advantage.”

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A photo posted by Declan (@declanoflaherty12) on

A greater advantage is when you have the support and encouragement of those around you. Declan says his parents are the most influential people in his life. They have always been there to support him at all stages of his football career. They work hard to make sure that academics and athletic pursuits are set as a priority.

“The most influential people in my life are my parents. They have continued to support me and come to every game since I was eight years old, and even in the cold. They continue to push me academically as well as athletically and they are devoted to making sure my brother and I are able to achieve our dreams.”

Having a great example (parents) to follow in life, as Declan has, has allowed him to apply lessons from playing the game into everyday life. “I like to use my leadership from football in the classroom and at work. I believe football has been able to build my confidence in order to adapt and conquer any situation I am faced with. It has also reinforced my commitment to school as I push to go to post-secondary and receive a degree.”

These kinds of life lessons are what sport is all about. Taking a game and using it to either lead you on to the next chapter of your life and/or to develop character that will allow you to meet the demands of the future. When asked where he would be today with out the game of football, Declan responded, “Without the game of football I feel like I would be lost and a completely different person. I would have a lack of motivation when it came to anything and I would have way too much free time on my hands. I have competed in many other sports throughout my youth, however nothing compares to football.”

Nothing compares to football. With that statement, Declan finishes off by letting us know that on game day, he’ll be eating chicken and spaghetti for his favourite gameday meal.

(Photos supplied by Declan O’Flaherty)

Declan O’Flaherty
QB
5’11, 165lbs

Team: Calgary Colts, Calgary Selects, Zone 3 Calgary Summer Games, Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats, Centennial Coyotes
Commitment: none
Official Visits: none
Considerations: open
Class: 2017

 

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