St. Joan of Arc hosts its annual Simcoe County football camp this weekend in Barrie
Paul Harrington, head coach of the St. Joan of Arc Knights, works on some weight training with running-back Justin Janicki. Harrington is helping to organize this weekend’s Simcoe County football camp, which, for 25 years, has helped spark young players into continuing the sport through high school and beyond. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School is hosting the 25th annual Simcoe County football camp on Saturday.
The non-contact technique camp, from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., will run regardless of weather conditions and teach proper football techniques such as stance, footwork and catching.
Participants from high school and Grade 8 will be guided by university coaches and seasoned Canadian Football League (CFL) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) players.
The event is free, including lunch which includes guess speakers and raffle draws.
One of the main speakers is Jamie Bone, who is a quarterback coach at Western University.
Bone was a quarterback, winning a Vanier Cup for the Western University Mustangs in 1976 with a pass accuracy of 80%.
In 2011, he created QB Nation, where he works with past Mustang players and coaches as a director and instructs players for 10 weeks during the off-season. The program is now training receivers and defensive backs, with about 60 mostly high-school players attending every year.
Saturday’s raffle draws also give participants the chance to win multiple different prizes such as shirts, posters, bobbleheads and more.
St. Joan of Arc Knights coach Paul Harrington says the camp, running for the 11th time at the south-end Barrie high school, has been a massive success.
“We originally started the camp in May 1992 because kids starting high school were reticent and missed tryouts, so we took action to keep participation high,” Harrington said. “The number of Simcoe County students who have gone to university football has kept increasing since then.”
The camp may also lead to significant opportunities in the future, with many young high-school and university players who have attended or guest coached being drafted.
Lucas Pyz is an accomplished member of the St. Joan of Arc Knights football program, winning the lineman-of-the-year and rookie leadership awards.
The Grade 11 student sees both the importance of the camp and the fun aspect.
“More than anything, I’m just looking forward to being back on the gridiron,” he said.
Pyz is attracting interest from Carleton University in Ottawa and Queen’s University Kingston, and is just one of many to reap the rewards of high-school football.
Often, past camp volunteers and attendees have been drafted into the CFL. They include St. Joan of Arc former offensive lineman Terry Hart, former Bear Creek wide-receiver Kyle Graves, and offensive lineman Jake Piotrowski from Eastview.
Graves was drafted in 2012 by the Montreal Alouettes before Hart was picked by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2014. Piotrowski was selected in 2013 by the Montreal Alouettes.
Jayden Kelly was a St. Joan of Arc Knight who is now playing as a defensive back for the University of Guelph Gryphons.
After attending the camp, Kelly may return as a guest coach for this year’s camp.
“With no universities in Barrie, we bring university coaches to expose and raise the existing level of talent that students have,” Harrington said.
There have been several coaches from the CFL who have taught at the camp. Some of the coaches include Doug Hargreaves, Larry Haylor and Greg Marshall.
Doug Hargreaves (1931-2016) was the coach of the Queen’s University Gaels for 19 years from 1976-1994. During his tenure, he won the Vanier Cup in 1978 and 1992. His teams were also victorious in eight conference finals which composed of two Yates Cups and six Dunsmore Cups.
Haylor was the coach of the Western University Mustangs from 1984 until 2006. He was the most successful coach of CIS football until his wins record was surpassed in 2011 by Brian Towriss.
Under Haylor’s leadership, the Mustangs won the Yates Cup eight times and the Vanier Cup in 1989 and 1994. He was inducted in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Greg Marshall is a former fullback and the current head coach and offensive co-ordinator of the Mustangs since 2007.
Marshall started his playing career in 1978 with the Mustangs, winning a Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1982 until returning to Western University in 1984 after a career-ending knee injury. At the time, he was Haylor’s assistant coach until he was promoted to the offensive co-ordinator in 1992. Marshall’s teams have reached the Yates Cup seven times in nine seasons and won four of them. As a result of his success, he is one of only two people to have won the Hec Creighton Trophy as Canadian university football’s most outstanding player and the CIS coach-of-the-year award.
Other CFL players who have been to the camp include Duayne Forde, a draft expert and homegrown talent tracker, game analyst and former fullback for the Calgary Stampeders. Jeff Johnson, who was a running back for the Toronto Argonauts, has also attended.
Registration for the camp is not required.
Those in high school should sign out their equipment from their own coaches. Everyone else is to sign out their helmet and shoulder pads at 9:30 a.m the day of the event.
The St. Joan of Arc Knights are known for their success on the football field, winning four straight senior boys Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) championships between 2012 and 2015.
For more information, email Paul Harrington at email@example.com or call him at 705-721-0398, ext. 432.
Justin Demelo is a Grade 11 co-op student from St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie.