By: Mike Still (@mikestill94)
Feature photo: Joseph Heyward will lead the Reivers front four on defence. Photo by hudl.com.
Over the next month, manitobafootballfeed will be previewing each of the 31 varsity teams battling for supremacy in the Winnipeg High School Football League, which kicks off its regular season on Wednesday, Sept. 5. Below is a breakdown of the Kildonan East Reivers.
Team: Kildonan East Reivers
Head Coach: Jason Hawkins, 6th year
Conference/Division: Vidruk Conference, Division 2
2017 Regular Season Record: 5-2
2017 Playoff Record: 2-1 (Lost to DMCI in Canad Inns Bowl)
Jason Hawkins has been a member of the Reivers staff since the team’s inception in 2006. During that time, he’s seen heartbreak — with three championship game losses in the first 10 years — but he’s also witnessed glory, in the form of the school’s first title, the WHSFL Bowl in 2016.
Last year, with a key number of returning players back, the squad made yet another run to the division three title game before falling short against Daniel Mac. Despite the result, the Reivers will be moving up to division two in 2018 and are looking to maintain their competitive edge against higher competition, despite losing a number of seniors that helped lead the team to last year’s championship.
Offence: Leading the team on offence will be senior quarterback/receiver Nick Ducharme, who was a member of the 2016 championship team. The versatile six-foot-one athlete is shifty and can make plays both with his arm and feet. He’ll be looked upon to step up, as last year’s MVP Deion Nelson has switched schools.
Complementing Ducharme will be a pair of juniors in running back Alex Fedrizzi and receiver Bryce Bayisabe. The former will be critical, as the team is looking to establish a strong running game this season. The latter will be a great complement to Ducharme, and has experience in the starting rotation.
Additionally, senior Josh Beaucage will be making his WHSFL debut at running back, looking to provide a strong 1-2 punch with Fedrizzi. He hasn’t played any high school football in the past due to a series of non-football related injuries and is chomping at the bit to make an impact.
Defence: With half of their starting defence graduated, a trio of juniors will be looked upon to step up, led by six-foot, 256-pound defensive end Joseph Heyward, who was another member of the 2016 championship team. He had over 30 tackles last year and a devastating pass rush that resulted in at least one sack in nearly every contest.
At linebacker, Emanuel Hailu will look to build off a strong 2017 campaign, while Kyle Campbell — a fellow 2016 championship team member — will anchor the secondary.
Short and long-term goals
With Kildonan East moving up a division, Hawkins is looking for his squad to “be competitive every week, while continuing to improve.” If this is accomplished, then the team should be able to “achieve their best football at the right time.”