A new era of Foothills Falcons football is taking flight.
Nathan St. Dennis, Foothills’ defensive co-ordinator for the past half-decade, is the new head coach of Falcons football following in the footsteps of the retired Darren Olson on the sidelines.
“It’s kind of funny because Darren and I came to Foothills at the same time,” St. Dennis said. “We worked closely together as the two teacher coaches at the school so we just keep moving with things the way we have been.
“We collaborated so much prior to him leaving that I don’t see the point in changing anything … Everything is status quo, but it’s just my name on the title now.”
There’s no need to fix what’s not been broken.
Olson guided the Falcons to three straight-provincial titles from 2015-17 in his half-decade with the school.
“I’m excited to jump into that role with so many great head coaches preceding me,” said St. Dennis, the Highwood Mustangs head coach before joining the Falcons staff. “With such a strong program I’m excited to put my stamp on it.”
Olson’s son Kiefer is the offensive co-ordinator this season while Darren himself will help the coaching staff at times throughout the campaign.
The coaching staff will have a youthful squad to work with in 2019 with a great deal of turnover on the roster.
“We get a different feel from every team, but over the time that we’ve been here and it will continue on and be consistent for us, is dynamic athletes and giving them opportunities to showcase themselves,” St. Dennis said. “This year we have the most turnover we’ve had in probably the last six years. We’ve got some new kids, kids transferring over from other sports.
“It’s exciting to see them showcase themselves in Falcon colours and I’m pumped to see what they can do, especially because a lot of them are younger.”
Providing some of the veteran leadership on the squad will be senior Eton Nelson, a receiver/slotback who’s fought back from injury problems.
“He’s really been spending a lot of time in the off-season preparing himself,” the coach said. “He’s struggled through some injuries, even in minor football. I’m excited for him to not only be that leader, but also get through a full season of football and showcase his talents because he’s a dynamic athlete, for sure.”
Grade 11 Ryker Blankert is expected to see action at quarterback after serving as signal caller for the Big Rock Bengals during the spring as is Tyson Camel, a baseball player with the Dawgs Academy.
The defence is where most of the turnover is felt with a number of new players in new roles on the squad with the exception of senior linebackers James Bertram and Thomas Cudd. Grade 11 transfer Hunter Romeril has been an early standout in the defensive backs.
“We’re going to be young,” St. Dennis said. “But we’ve got some great kids that are really focused on what they’re doing.
“The defensive philosophy for us is never going to change, it’s about more than one person, about going to the ball and being physical.”
Foothills opened the season on the road in a 36-6 loss to the LCI Rams on Aug. 30 in Lethbridge.
The Falcons’ home opener is Sept. 6 versus the Strathmore Spartans, a 5 p.m. kick-off. Other key tilts include the Blackout Game on Sept. 20 versus the HTA Knights.
“Our expectations are more of a process than they ever have been because you’ve got young guys with less experience,” the coach added. “It’s about finishing strong, which sometimes is difficult because of the patience involved with that.
“It’s a process, and for us it’s about getting better each week.”