JV coaches ready to roll
The Super Bowl marks the end of the NFL season, but another football season is quickly approaching for the London Junior Mustangs. And the 2017 version of the ‘Stangs will see some significant changes atop their two oldest teams. Longtime Junior Varsity Head Coach Jean Paul Circelli will move to the Varsity level, while newcomer Matt Snyder will take over head coaching duties at the Junior Varsity level.
Snyder is no stranger to football in London, having been involved at the high school and competitive levels for the past 10 years. In the fall, he serves as offensive coordinator at South Collegiate. In 2016, the South Lions finished 10-0 and won both the London City Championship and the OFSAA championship game.
“The Junior Mustangs are a program built for success,” Snyder said. “The main reasons I came here was the strong leadership at the board level, the first-class resources that the program makes available to the players and coaches, and the commitment to developing players and building competitive teams.”
Snyder moved quickly to bring some of the top local coaches on board, retaining David Martin as his defensive coordinator. And he also reached out to several of his previous colleagues to fill his coaching staff, including Joe Gregorio (RB), Sean Van Beers (FB’s), Shaun Timbeck (LB’s), Brock Thomson (OL), Mike Halfday (DL) and Tyson McClure (DB). Newcomer Kevin Smith (WR) rounds out the staff.
Tryouts for the 2017 Junior Mustangs will start in April. Snyder looks forward to getting back on the field with the players.
“The new Ontario Provincial ‘AAA’ league is basically the 12 best teams in Ontario battling each week,” Snyder said. “Every university coach in the province will be scouting these games week by week. If you’re looking to be recruited, this is definitely the place to get noticed. And if you’re looking to achieve greatness in football, the Junior Mustangs are the place to play.”
Atoms armed with new talent
In 2016, the Atom Junior Mustang squad, led by Head Coach Bruno De Sando and Defensive Coordinator Adam Melrose, posted a successful 7-1 record. The team then had the opportunity to play an exhibition game against the Port Huron Bills at halftime of an NFL preseason game between the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. The Atoms are certainly hoping to have another successful season this year, but it won’t come without its challenges.
“We’ve lost a lot of players,” De Sando said. “Fifteen of our 20 players from last year’s roster have moved up to the PeeWee level. But our recruiting this offseason has gone very well, and we have some real talent coming into the organization. I’m confident we’ll be successful again this year.”
De Sando has named Brandon Yohnicki as his offensive coordinator. Yohnicki most recently served as offensive line coach for the Mustangs’ Atom team. He also coached with the 2016 Team Ontario Spalding Cup U16 Team, and with the Provincial Champion London Beefeaters team (both as O-Line coach).
With Adam Melrose moving up to the PeeWee level, De Sando named coach Shane McLennan as his defensive coordinator for 2017. McLennan served in that capacity for the Atom St. Thomas Hawks in the LMFA last year. Along with Yohnicki and McLennan, De Sando has a very strong supporting staff this year, including Graeme Crittenden (RBs), Ethan Chambers (QBs), Bryan Greigoschewski (Offensive Assistant), Scott Noszenko (DBs), and Jeremy Masterson (LBs).
“I’m very excited for the 2017 season,” De Sando said. “We have great coaching, great players, and a great organization behind us. At the Atom age group, we really try to focus on development of the players’ skills and love of the game. If winning is a result, then that makes it even better, but our goal at the Atom level is to foster a love of the sport in the players and ensure that they have a great time, win or lose.”
Submitted by London Jr. Mustangs