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This article was published 15/9/2016 (1950 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The unique environment of Kildonan East football has Reivers head coach Jason Hawkins and the rest of his staff focusing on the basics, and that’s fine with him.
"Kildonan East football gets kids in an organized sports and gives them the sense of belonging of a team," Hawkins said.
Many of Hawkins’ players had never played organized football before. In 2015 his average player had .9 years of football experience, less than even in the program’s maiden year back in 2006.
"In 2015, we focused on the fundamentals, going back to the basics and keeping them motivated," Hawkins said. "As a coach you’re pushing to win but on the other side you’re also realistic. Last year we focused on us and not what the other team was doing."
The Reivers took their share of punishment in the AA Kas Vidruk Division last year, but Hawkins said he was proud of how his players handled it.
"Our guys were great. Every week the game would finish and I’d say ‘Boys, we’ll be here Monday, I’ll be here.’ So were they. No one quit."
Hawkins said his team’s lack of experience often showed in the second half of close contests when more experienced players on opposing teams made adjustments and took control of the game.
"Last year was a learning curve for some guys. Now they’re more mature and their football sense is better."
A former defensive co-ordinator, Hawkins sees the Reiver defence fulfilling his vision.
"I look for hustle to the football. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it going 100 miles per hour, flow to the football."
Not surprisingly, that defence is lead by a player relatively new to the game. Second-year linebacker Abhishek Sharma is the spirit of the defence, Hawkins said.
"He fires up the boys and plays 100 miles per hour. His level from last year to this year is like flicking a switch. It’s amazing how much his football IQ has gone up and how he’s taken to the game."
Hawkins said he expects defensive lineman Jessie Posthumus to have a good year.
The Reiver offence has a diverse set of weapons, Hawkins said. Star receiver Michael Goldenstein was the Reivers’ 2015 MVP. At six-foot-four he has the frame for a receiver but he doesn’t rest on his physical gifts, Hawkins said.
"He’s a phenomenal receiver and he works really hard. He’s a really good kid."
Two-way player Desmond Jeanson has earned provincial attention as a defensive back but will pull double duty as the number one running back.
Quarterback Danny Harris is a selfless player, Hawkins said.
"Danny Harris has been amazing. He was a defensive back who moved up to quarterback when the team needed him and he matured into that position.
"He came to me last year and said he’d stay at quarterback and do whatever the team needed to get better."
Community correspondent - East Kildonan
Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at email@example.com