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WHSFL team preview: Grant Park Pirates

By Mike Still , 08/26/19, 2:30PM CDT


Will Smith (90) anchors a Grant Park defensive line that should be one of the best in the league

A Division 1 team since 2013, the Grant Park Pirates and eighth-year head coach Doug Kovacs have been a consistent playoff contender despite being the smallest school in the top tier. 

Last year's WHSFL Bowl champs have reloaded for 2019 with a roster that sees a number of impact grade 11's join the squad after making it all the way to the championship game a year ago, as well as a solid dose of veteran seniors. 

Included among the list of JVs moving up is starting pivot Nik Hasselfied -- a "savvy player with a great arm," according to Kovacs. He's got great size and will provide the Pirates -- typically a run-heavy team in years past -- with a solid air attack. 

His favourite target in the passing game is is likely to be senior Luc Rodrigues, a shifty slotback and returner with "great hands and speed." Fellow senior Desmond Pelto is also likely to be a factor at the tight end position and is also a physical blocker. 

The backfield will feature a multi-pronged attack, including last year's leading rusher, senior Paulo Dizon. 

The position that's drawing the most attention however, is Grant Park's offensive line, led by massive seniors Spencer Stark and Julian Marsden at tackle -- the latter of whom has already gotten interest from SFU, as well as Marcus Duykers at guard. Juniors Austin Fiddler, Noah Penner and Dominic Lathlin are also "talented and physical and will make holes for the Pirate running attack." 

Fiddler in particular is a player to watch out for at guard. He's incredibly intelligent and has a great base and power. 

Defensively, Grant Park's front four is expected to be one of the best in the league, led by Will Smith -- who's being recruited by multiple U SPORTS schools and junior defensive end Salvatore Pasta, the heart and soul of Grant Park's defence at the JV level in 2018. Kaleb Mackie-Mcleod and Stark fill out the rest of the d-line and are most physically imposing as well. 

The linebacking corps features a group of hungry juniors in "tackling machine" Allesandro Imbrogno and SAM Toni Shulman, who has excellent coverage skills. In the secondary, Jackson Mclean had five interceptions a year ago and is hungry to break the program record for pics in a career, while 6'4", 185-pound safety Jake Nitychoruk will play both ways for the team and has all the makings of a future U SPORTS star due to his range and knack for making big plays.