Coach's Corner

If I Were the Coach

Southern Gazette August 14. 2007

By Gord Dunphy

If I Were the Coach

Finally, with all my political aspirations put aside for the time being and with my full support thrown behind Progressive Conservative candidate Darin King, the following is what happens when a sports columnist has too much free time on his hands.

As a sports columnist, you think you know everything, so I figured in my spare time I would try my hand at coaching again. The following is a little hypothetical, given "if I were the coach of any of any of the present Challenge Cup teams". Here’s my lineup I would use for the following teams:

St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians:

Coach’s Corner Starting Lineup Goal: John Douglas Fullbacks: Blair Aylward, Clinton Edwards, Marc Pittman, Adam Loder Midfield: Ryan Slaney, Joe Cecchini, Rudy Norman, Paul Slaney Strikers: Mike Howlett, Richard Kelly

Coach’s Corner Comments: As coach of St. Lawrence, I would put the best 11 Laurentians on my starting lineup. By doing this, I would make several changes to the present Laurentian roster. I would start by putting Clinton Edwards as Laurentians sweeper and I also would move Adam Loder back into the left wing back position. Marc Pittman would be my center back marker and Blair would perform his regular duties as right wing back. In midfield, I would make changes. I would have Joe Cecchini play center midfield, performing the roles of an offensive midfielder. I would have Rudy Norman as the defensive mid-fielder. 2007 all- stars Paul Slaney and Ryan Slaney would be my wing mid-fielders. This shuffle, combined with starting strikers Mike Howlett and Richard Kelly would make the Laurentians absolutely unbeatable on the provincial scene and they would certainly be a legitimate contender at the Senior Men’s Nationals.

Mount Pearl/That Pro Look/Molson:

Coach’s Corner Starting Lineup Goal: Gerald Connolly Fullbacks: Gord Ryan, Victor Dray, Jon Kelly, David Manning Midfield: Mark Reddy, Chad Parsons, Shane Antle, Will Hearn Strikers: Justin Pickford, Chris White

Coach’s Corner Comments: I would start Victor Dray and Jon Kelly back as center backs, using Victor as a sweeper and Kelly as marker. I unquestionably would use Chad Parson’s size and heart to bring a physical presence to the middle of the field. Chad would carry out defensive mid-field duties and I would get Shane Antle to focus more on offensive midfield. If Sean Drew from the Mount Pearl U-18 squad was available, I definitely would use him as a starting striker. In my opinion he is the ‘best’ striker in the province today. However, I do feel that I would have the same concerns with the Burin Peninsula officials as I hear being expressed by a number of individuals from Mount Pearl.

Holy Cross/The Keg:

Coach’s Corner Starting Lineup Goal: Tyler Putt Fullbacks: Karl Reddy, Andre Le, Jeremy Babstock, Brian Reddy Midfield: Zach Wade, Ryan Yetman, Cory Moore, Jon Lacey Strikers: Jon Hawco, Jay Babstock

Coach’s Corner Comments: My line-up would give Holy Cross some heart and a very strong physical presence down the middle. Jeremy Babstock, Ryan Yetman and Jay Babstock could physically dominate their opponents. Andre Le would be my sweeper and I feel Jeremy Babstock has the tools to be an excellent center back marksman. I sense Jeremy is a stronger back than he is a mid-fielder and Jay could challenge upfront, staying with the opponents last man. I feel Cory Moore would contribute more to the team’s attack, playing as their offensive midfielder, while I would have Ryan Yetman focus on mid-field defence. I would probably start Jon Lacey, but if he didn’t show more emotion than he has in the past, I would move Brian Reddy up from the back line into Lacey’s mid-field place and sub Sean Connolly in as a wing-back.

Only Andre Le, Cory Moore and Jon Hawco are performing up to par. Holy Cross’s goaltending continues to be very questionable to say the least this season.

Feildians Ernst & Young Orenda:

Coach’s Corner Starting Lineup Goal: Matthew Prim Fullbacks: Colin Browne, Steve Croft, John Acreman, Scott Knight Midfield: Chris Roche, Justin Black, Steve Howell, David Webb, and Mike McCarthy Strikers: Matthew Wilkins

Coach’s Corner Comments: Coaching the Fieldians, I would play a totally defensive system using a 4 -5-1 system. This system would have four fullbacks, five midfielders and a striker. This structure is used by a number of European clubs and it puts all the players back over the center, generally giving ball position to your opponent and looking for a few opportunities on a counter attack system to hook a goal and even a chance to steal a victory. There is no doubt the Fieldians would have to pull a upset to gain victory against St. Lawrence, Holy Cross or Mount Pearl and this system may very well be their only chance

Burin Shooters Eagles:

Coach’s Corner Starting Lineup Goal: David Baggs, Fullbacks: Robert Lambe, Shannon Brushett, Colin Power, Chad Chislett Midfield: Travis Edwards, Brandon Lundrigan, Peter Green, Clay Roul, Strikers: Ryan Lane, Jeremy Brenton

Coach’s Corner Comments: Coaching Burin, I would totally concentrate on defense and give Burin a fairly experienced back line. I would have Colin Power sweep and Shannon Brushett mark. I would use Chad Chislett and young Robert Lambe play as wing backs. I would put youth in the midfield that could virtually run all day, using Travis Edwards, Brandon Lundrigan, Peter Green, and Clay Roul. I would also use Ryan Lane and Jeremy Brenton up front. However, I would have Jeremy Brenton playing high, utilizing his speed. There is no doubt I would be concentrating solely on the future but I would still like the taste of victory now.

Dunphy Details: Here’s my selection of award winners for the 2007 regular Challenge Cup season.

2007 - All – Star Team
Goal: Gerald Connolly
Fullbacks: Jon Kelly, Clinton Edwards, Victor Dray, Adre Le
Midfield: Ryan Slaney, Rudy Norman, Stephen Croft, Paul Slaney.
Strikers: Joe Cecchini, Jon Hawco

2007 Individual Award Winners:
Coach of the Year: Derek Strang
Rookie of Year: Andre Le
Most Gentlemen and Sportsmanlike: Paul Slaney
Top Defender: Victor Dray
League MVP : Clinton Edwards