CEC opens the new season with home game on Sunday afternoon
TRURO - The goal for the Cobequid Cougars football team this season is clear.
© Matthew Veno – Truro Daily News
The Cobequid Cougars have their sights set on restoring their program's history of glory this season on the high school gridiron and open their season Sunday at home against the Auburn Drive Eagles. Captains of the team are, from left, Ryan Strickland, Adam Kaulbach, Andrew Murphy, Patrick Smith, Riley Jennings and Kyle Scott.
"Win the Tier 1 playoff," quarterback Riley Jennings said matter-of-factly.
The Cougars start that quest Sunday when they host the Auburn Drive Eagles at 1 p.m. at James Macpherson Stadium in their Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football League season opener.
The Cougars are looking to avoid a season like last year, which saw them miss the Tier 1 playoffs for the third consecutive season.
"It's not just last season but the last couple years we've just squeaked by with a 4-4 record and that's not what is traditionally acceptable here," Cougars head coach Scott Annand said.
The players quickly agreed, they're not interested in having history repeat itself either.
"There was a lot of setbacks," defensive lineman Adam Kaulbach said. "We had a game cancelled, a lot of us got injured and a lot of little things like that just set us back."
The 19-team league is divided into two divisions of nine teams each with one team - Sydney Academy - operating as an independent. The top six from each division move on to the postseason.
The top two teams from each division meet for the Tier 1 title, while the Tier 2 crown will be contested by the third- and fourth-place finishers. A consolation playoff will be played between the fifth- and sixth-place teams.
In spite of their recent history, the Cougars feel like they can turn things around this season. In spite of again having a young squad, they feel like they've got the talent to get them where they want to go. They've gotten bigger since last fall, are faster and more skilled.
Annand spoke specifically about the strong throwing arm and poise of Jennings in the pocket. He'll be complimented by a group of speedy receivers who should help the team stretch the field and open some holes for the Cobequid running game.
But Annand said no matter how talented his team may be, it all comes down to execution on game day.
"The key for any program at any level is sound fundamentals," he said. "You have to execute in all three phases of the game and that's what we're trying to do here. What we do, we want to do very well and that way the kids can play at an optimum speed."
But Annand acknowledged the competition will be tough this season and the Cougars are facing an athletically gifted Auburn squad that is looking to avoid an 0-2 start after opening the season with a loss in Week 1.
"There's a target on our back and it's our house and we've got to come out ready to go."
Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football League
Nova Division: Avon View, Central Kings, C.P. Allen, Citadel, Cole Harbour, Dartmouth, Halifax West, Northeast Kings, Prince Andrew.
Scotia Division: Cobequid, Auburn Drive, Horton, J.L. Ilsley, Dr. John Hugh Gillis, Lockview, Sackville, Sir John A. Macdonald, West Kings.
Independent: Sydney Academy.
Playoffs: The top six from each division move on to the postseason. The top two teams from each division meet for the Tier 1 title, while the Tier 2 crown will be contested by the third and fourth-place finishers. A consolation playoff will be played between the fifth and sixth-place teams.
Season opener: Sunday, 1 p.m. vs. Auburn Drive Eagles, James Macpherson Stadium.
Admission: $5 for adults, $2 for students.
Sept. 15 - Auburn Drive at CEC (1 p.m.)
Sept. 21 - CEC at Horton (7 p.m.)
Sept. 30 - J.L. Isley at CEC (4 p.m.)
Oct. 4 - CEC at Dr. J.H. Gillis (7 p.m.)
Oct. 13 - CEC vs. Citadel at Saint Mary's (1 p.m.)
Oct. 20 - Sackville at CEC (1 p.m.)
Oct. 27 - CEC at West Kings (1 p.m.)
Nov. 2 - Sir John A. MacDonald at CEC (1 p.m.)