The Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School Flames kicked off a new season of varsity football on Friday afternoon.
There was a lot of promise surrounding the program last year after it was coached by J.P. Falacho, who had previously led St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School in Brampton to two Region of Peel championships.
Prior to that, Fogarty hadn't fielded a team in nearly a decade. Unfortunately for the Flames, their head coach transferred to St. Peter's Catholic Secondary School in Barrie and is no longer involved.
In the role of head coach this year is Martin Treash, who teaches religion at the school. Treash is a former offensive lineman for Mount Allison University.
"I think they had one or two wins last year, " Treash explained of the first season back on the gridiron for the Orillia school. "But Falacho leaves big shoes to fill. He had a lot of knowledge, and he's been coaching for a long time."
Treash says he was concerned that when Falacho left, the program would fold, which is why he stepped into the role of head coach.
"That went into my decision-making process," he explained. "If Falacho wasn't here there wouldn't be anybody else."
Treash says he wants his players to have as much fun as they can this year and avoid any serious injuries.
"Hopefully we will get a couple of wins, too," he said. "This is a dedicated group."
The varsity team has been practising since before school started in September. Treash says they are well prepared heading into the new season. He hopes the school will be able to field both a junior and senior team next year.
"That requires more players and coaches," he said. "We will see where it goes from here."
Treash says it's important for the school to have a football team because it gets students involved.
"Some of these kids wouldn't be doing this otherwise," he said. "It gets guys out here to learn team building and life skills."
Quarterback Alex Winacott, a Grade 12B student, says the football team feels like his family.
"Everyone just comes together," he said. "It's football, it's fun, people come out to watch it, and the whole environment is always energetic."
Winacott, 17, is hoping to play football at the university level next year, which is why he returned to PF for an extra year of high school.
"I got to get better if I want to do that," he said. "That's why I wanted to come back and help out with the program."
Winacott expects the football program at PF to be better this year than it was one year ago.
"Last year was the first time playing for everyone," he explained. "I think we will have a good season. We will take it one play at a time and will see how it goes."
Despite losing at home to Barrie's St. Joseph's on Friday, Winacott is keeping a positive outlook. He says the team will learn from the loss and will start preparing for their next match-up on Thursday, Oct. 5 when the Flames host Barrie's St. Joan of Arc at 2:30 p.m.
For more information on Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County football action (CSASC), click here.