High hopes

THUNDER AND ENLIGHTENING: St. Joan of Arc football anticipates a strong future.

Middle-of-the-pack Thunder see a bright football future

There’s electricity in the air over St. Joan of Arc.

A storm is brewing and it’s all about rivalry for the Thunder as they hit the gridiron in the 2011 season.

Coach Fabio Brusco is charged by all the excitement, from proving the team’s worth against Toronto’s Chaminade in pre-season to their opener against Bill Crothers Colts and their subsequent homecoming against Newmarket Raiders.

For the past few seasons, St. Joan has been a middle-of-the-pack squad, juking between fourth and fifth spot out of a nine-team division.

“You have to remember Vaughan, up until recently, we’ve never trained football players,” Brusco said. “We’re going up against the Markhams (Marauders), the Huron Heights of Newmarket, etc.

“Those kids have been playing football since eight.”

But the hope lies in the future. With Brusco helming the Vaughan Football Association, the seniors will have a great supporting bench.

“It looks like we have a lot of depth and a lot of skilled players at positions,” Brusco said. “Another thing that helped was more kids are staying in open football during the off-seasons as well.”

Returning to the squad this season are linemen Todd Hickey and Eric Iaboni as well as senior quarterback Gianfranco Schiarripa.

But the seniors aren’t the only focus, as the juniors have piqued interest.

“We’re thinking highly of some of the juniors that are making the majority of the team right now,” Brusco said, adding the Vaughan Football Association hasn’t seen the fruits of a league formed in 2008.

One promising junior, at the fullback position, is Andrew Anichini. He also looks to pull his weight on defence as linebacker.

For the 16-year-old, graduating to the senior team poses new challenges.

“I just want to make my playing better and get back into football mode because I’ve been playing rugby all summer,” he said, adding the larger opponents are a daunting task but he’ll adapt.

“I’ll make sure that any fear is out of the way and my technique is a little better so I can actually block or hit the person that’s a bit bigger,” he said.

Brusco admits the strength of the team lies with the juniors.

What they do against the top three teams in York Region — King City, Huron Heights and Markham — will be key to proving the Thunder are on the “uptick”.

At present, St. Joan’s target is not the top three, though. They want to defeat their on-field rival.

“Our nemesis at this point is G.W. Williams,” Brusco said. “We can’t beat them.

“Last year we lost to them with one second left on a questionable call.”

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