VANCOUVER — A new era in Notre Dame Jugglers senior varsity football is beginning with a simple hand-off between two veteran coaches.
Richard Scott, whose patient re-build of the Jugglers carried them all the way to a heartbreaking 17-14 overtime loss in Subway Bowl B.C. high school Triple-A final against the Terry Fox Ravens this past December has announced that he has decided to step down to spend more time with his family.
In his place comes Denis Kelly, a former Jugglers’ lead assistant, who spent a generation in Abbotsford making the W.J. Mouat Hawks a provincial power before coaching the past two seasons at Simon Fraser and St. Thomas More respectively.
Scott, who succeeded 33-year head coaching legend George Oswald in 2011, departs after six seasons at the helm. Before he became the Jugglers senior varsity head coach, he coached the school’s JVs for 18 seasons.
The departure opened up just the second senior varsity head coaching football vacancy at the East Vancouver school in 39 seasons.
“After 24 years of coaching football at ND, we as a family needed to step back from it for a while,” Scott explained. “I think there are very few that truly understand all the time commitment that is necessary at the varsity level to just keep it going.
“I’ve got no complaints,” he continued. “It was my choice to be involved heading the most-storied program in B.C., just as it was as our choice to take a break and be more available to our two daughters.”
Scott’s 2016 Jugglers team was a gutsy, character-filled group led by quarterback Steven Moretto which beat Vancouver College in the playoffs and came close to winning the school’s first BC title since 1993.
The new kid on the block, Kelly, is actually coming home.
“I was there from 1982 through 1985,” says Kelly, who assisted Oswald on the offence as the Jugglers made two finals appearances and won one B.C. title (1982). “We didn’t call it offensive coordinator back then. I mostly worked with the quarterbacks.”
Kelly, of course, is best known for his time at Mouat, where he coached the Hawks into seven Subway Bowl finals and won two of them.
He left Mouat after the 2014 season, spending one season working as a co-offensive coordinator with the SFU Clan and this past season as the offensive coordinator at St. Thomas More.
“The one thing that I have tried to do is always take advantage of the skills of the athletes that we have,” Kelly said, simplifying his approach to reflect his ability to excel in both pass- and run-heavy attacks. “Some years you have great quarterbacks like we had at Mouat with Steve Goosen, so you throw it. But when we got great backs like Boseko (Lokombo) and Maleek (Irons), we ran it.
“I’ll wait until 7-on-7 practices in the spring to see what we’ve got. I have been sitting here working on the playbook. I’ve already put in few hours.”
Kelly is coming to Notre Dame at a time of great growth within its football program.
A new on-campus facility, including a new playing field, will make home games a part of the Jugglers’ student-body experience, and last season, not only did the seniors make the finals, the school’s Grade 8 team won its Subway Bowl final.
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