Chateauguay school brings back football program after nearly 50 years
Howard S. Billings High School is turning on the Friday night lights, bringing back its tackle football team after a nearly 50-year hiatus.
"This is super exciting. We haven't had football here at Billings for a very long time," said manager Sophie Caisse.
Caisee says her excitement is shared by the entire school community.
Now, as the Billings Blazers prepare to make their comeback, players hope they live up to expectations.
"It feels good to know that, but at the same time, we have something to prove coming into a new league as a new team," said student athlete Jahki Parkinson.
The team is open to grade 10 and 11 students. Head coach Luc Pelland says the team's resurgence is due to several factors, but mostly to help keep teenagers in school.
"Let's keep them busy, let's keep them off the streets, teach them a great game where they will make friends and learn good habits and increase the school spirit," Pelland told CTV News.
While he has 25 years of experience coaching at the CEGEP and university levels with Concordia and McGill, this is Pelland's first high school gig.
"It’s a little different. I'm used to working with older men, so I've had to, maybe, watch my language a little bit more," he laughed. "But you know, football is football."
Future players hope to learn from his experience and take their game to the next level.
"I'm still learning the game, and I'm hoping with coach Pelland and everyone helping me out, I'll just get better by the year and go onto CEGEP," said grade 10 student Thomas Granberg.
There are still about three months to go, but the almost five-decade wait will be worth it when the team steps onto the field.
"I really hope when it comes to game time, a ton of people are going to show up. It's going to be really good," said Granberg.
The high school season officially starts in late August.