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Frontenac quarterbacks make themselves at home at McMaster

September 1, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

It’s not a coincidence, McMaster Marauders coach Stefan Ptaszek says, that quarterbacks have worn a veritable path from Kingston’s Frontenac Secondary School to his football team.

And it isn’t because McMaster is so desperate to make sense of why a team called ‘Marauders’ has a bird of prey on its logo that it cuts slack to anyone who ever played on a team called Falcons.

Quite simply, Ptaszek likes players who are used to being successful — “Frontenac’s a powerhouse,” he said — and he believes players from this particular successful program are uncommonly well prepared to play intercollegiate ball.

“(It’s) a very progressive high school,” he said.

It’s not surprising, then, that when Tyler Filson’s name came across Ptaszek’s desk with the word ‘Frontenac’ — the high school that sent Adam Archibald to McMaster in 2003, and produced Marshall Ferguson, the man who will start at quarterback Monday afternoon when the Marauders visit the Queen’s Golden Gaels — in the line for high school attended, the coach took notice.

You can also be certain he wasn’t surprised that Filson, after just 10 days of his freshman training camp, dressed as Ferguson’s backup in the Marauders’ season-opening victory last Sunday over Ottawa.

“It’s not a shock that young men coming out of that program are ready to play a high level of three-down football in the CIS,” Ptaszek said.

“They’re extremely well coached. It is a spread offence and one of the more progressive offences you’ll see at the high school level anywhere in the country.”

There’s one other thing.

“The interaction with those young men has been so positive,” said Ptaszek, who altogether has four former Falcons on his roster. “They all come from such supportive, great families so I don’t think it’s complete luck that they’re all fantastic young men.”

Kingston high schools have been sending quality quarterbacks to Canadian universities for a long time.

Among them, Sydenham’s Tom Howes was a short-yardage specialist when Queen’s won the Vanier Cup in 2009. Scott McMenamin (also Regi) backed up perennial Hec Crighton winner Chris Flynn at powerhouse Saint Mary’s. Bob Wright (KC) had a splendid five-year at Queen’s.

In one banner season, 1995, of the eight teams in the nation’s four conference finals, three were quarterbacked by Kingston products — Western by Warren Goldie (Bayridge), Queen’s by Beau Howes (Loyalist) and Laurier by Kevin McDonald (Regi).

Lately, however, the best ones seem to have come out of Frontenac — and they’ve all wound up at McMaster, and it’s not because they share the same school colours.

“That helped, too,” Ferguson said with a grin, but for him the explanation for the pipeline is simple: “Coaching,” he said.

“It’s very similar, in terms of expectations, the way they organize practice,” he explained. “Coaches at Frontenac are very discipline-based and they’re very focused on doing things the right way.”

The Falcons have won four of the last six National Capital Bowl titles with Mark Magee co-ordinating the offence. Oddly, Magee, who is also coaching the running backs at Queen’s this season, will be on the opposite bench from his proteges on Monday.

“When I was in my Grade 12 year and I was going into my fifth year, I pretty much knew I wanted to go (to McMaster),” Ferguson said, “so I asked Magee if we could switch some of our stuff, our cadence and some of our terminology, to stuff like here.

“I think because of that the offence we played kind of molded after I left into an offence more like (McMaster’s). It was similar, and the people at both Frontenac and Mac are pretty similar, too, in terms of being laid back, easy going.”

Monday’s game starts at 2 p.m. at Richardson Stadium.

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