The new head coach of the Centennial secondary school’s senior football team is hoping to bring the Centaurs’ program into the light from the darkness of two consecutive winless seasons.
So Dino Geremia conducted some off-season workouts in the high school’s expansive foyer.
“It’s to show the students we’re here,” said Geremia, who took the reigns of the team from former coach Eric Taylor in early February.
Geremia is undaunted by the challenge before him.
Since 2013, the Centaurs — who count last year’s most valuable Canadian player in the Grey Cup, Lemar Durant, amongst its alumni — have won exactly five games, all of them in the 2016 season. Last year’s team gave up a staggering 351 points while scoring only 58, the highest point differential of all BC Secondary Schools Football Association teams.
Geremia said he’s confident his 14 years of experience working with young football players at Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and Notre Dame secondary school, as well as his extensive work in player and coaching development at the provincial level can help return the Centaurs to the former glory that earned the team the Subway Bowl championship in 2009.
Durant, who was the quarterback of that squad that didn’t lose a game, recently signed as a free agent with the B.C. Lions. And Geremia has dipped into the Lions’ den for help with his new challenge as he’ll be assisted on Centennial’s sideline by former Lion, Giulio Caravetta.
“Kids can relate to somebody who’s played the game,” Geremia said. “That’s how it starts to build and grow that they can do it too.”
Geremia said he already has a solid core of 30 players to work with, but he’ll be looking to almost double that by building the team’s profile within the school, educating parents about the benefits of football and steps the game has taken to minimize injuries as well as forging stronger ties with Centennial’s junior team that had five wins last season but lost its wild card playoff game, 47-14, to Belmont.
Geremia said he’s looking to build a program, not just a team.
“We’re all in this together, the players and the coaches,” he said. “Everyone represents Centaurs’ football.”
Geremia, who played at Notre Dame and SFU before graduating to the sidelines, said football can help give young people a sense of community that can’t be matched in the school’s hallways or cafeteria.
“It makes the kids feel like they’re part of something bigger,” he said.
And when all the pieces fall into place perfectly, the whole community in and around the school stands to benefit.
“It’s hard not to be energized by young people who work hard,” Geremia said. “And there’s nothing more powerful than tapping into that energy.”