Red Devils set for home opener
Coaches want to be tougher this season after missing playoffs
MARK MALONE THE DAILY NEWS
The Wallaceburg Red Devils shouldn’t be easy to play against this year.
Co-coach Jamie Knight expects them to be not only better but also tougher than the team that missed the Ontario Jr. ‘B’ Lacrosse League playoffs last year with an 8-12 record.
“There were times we got bullied last year because we were young and inexperienced,” he said. “I don’t like having those teams. We want to be tougher. That doesn’t mean we’re going to fight, but we definitely want to add toughness to our team.”
They visited London on Thursday for the season opener. Their home opener is at 4 p.m. Saturday against the Elora Mohawks at Wallaceburg Memorial Arena.
The lineup is still coming together. Some players have school commitments, newly acquired Tyler Brown is likely sidelined until at least next week with a knee injury and Kyle Dawson is still playing hockey with the London Nationals.
“It seems every time we take a step forward, we take a step back,” Knight said about the roster, “but it’s the start of the year. I’m more concerned with how we finish than how we start.”
After adding four players (Brown, Vern Hill, Madisen General and Cole Dezainde) from Six Nations last week, Knight expects to add two Americans in May.
Manhattan College freshman Nick Medley is from Louisville, Ky., and High Point University commit Issac Newland is from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
Knight and fellow coaches Justin Durston and Jordan Durston were busy recruiting players in the offseason.
“We were looking from Nova Scotia all the way to B.C.,” Knight said.
The Red Devils’ offence is in good shape. The returning players include Evan Mathany (87 points), Cory Lucier (84 points), Dawson (56 points), Parker Gilhuly (53 points) and Carter Hastings (30 points in nine games).
Their veteran defensive corps includes Bronson Bea, Brendan Johnston, Brock Daugherty and Justin Scheuneman.
The Red Devil’ defenders are too talented to not play offence as well, Knight said. He wants them jumping into the rush more this season and creating scoring chances, just as he wants the forwards to help on defence more, too.
“We want lacrosse players,” he said. “That’s our biggest thing. We want to get away from that offence-defence (mentality) and get back to having hybrid players.”
To do that, they’ve been working on their conditioning. Players can’t go both ways when they’re gassed.
“We will be a running team, no doubt,” Knight said.
Noble Jacobs will be their No. 1 goalie, with Emily VanDamme as his backup.
“I really hope this is his big, massive breakout year,” Knight said.
The Red Devils’ coaches also have high hopes for midget players Riley Roe, Tyler Davis and Tanner Cole.
“I’m expecting really big things from our midgets this year, and so is Justin,” Knight said.
Bronson Bea and the Wallaceburg Red Devils will play their home opener Saturday against the Elora Mohawks.