By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This is just his third season as the Boys and Girls football coach, but so far Clive Harding has ran a pretty successful program with playoff appearances, and playoff victories, in each of his first two years. However, this season has started off quite differently than the first two as he's bringing back just one returning starter from last year and the Kangaroos are likely playing their last season at the Old Boys High Field in East Flatbush.
"It is going to be a shame," Harding said of losing the field the school has played on for nearly the past 100 years. "I may arrange one game a year here just to hold on to it. It's tradition, I don't want to give it up totally. Hopefully we'll get some lights on the new field. If we get lights then it will probably be worth it."
As sad as it is that Boys and Girls High School will be losing the only field its known since Boys High and Girls High were two separate schools Harding doesn't have a lot of time to dwell on that these days because he's worried about bringing his new squad up to speed.
"This is my seventh season here and my third as the head coach and I've never seen this kind of turnover," Harding said. "We're low on numbers as it is and with about 30 kids on the roster so you feel a big turnover like that even more. We graduated 24 kids, all 24 kids graduated. The new kids are very good kids and they're trying hard, but we had one returning starter from last year so some of them still have a lot to learn."
Last year's squad went 7-1 and only lost to the eventual city champions in Erasmus Hall and to Curtis in the second round playoffs. It was also a team filled with talented players like Najee Champagne, who rushed for 16 touchdowns and 760 yards last year, Keon March, who threw for 1,189 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Richardson Derosena, who had 411 all purpose yards and four touchdowns. They're all gone now.
A couple of the players who Harding is counting on taking their place are running back and outside linebacker Hollis Superville, who played in just two games last season, and quarterback Dashawn Brice, who played in three games last season and threw as many interceptions as he made completions -- one.
That's not a knock on those players though as Harding called each talented and hardworking. In fact, he's relying on them to help lead this team.
"They've got the drive," Harding explained. "I think you'll see by the end of the year, when they get a bit more experience under their belts, they'll be real leaders on this team. Superville is going to be the guy that touches the ball the most and we have a good receiver core for Brice to throw to. Jonathan Giles is moving from receiver to slot back. They're new at football, but with some time, I think we'll be fine."
Making things slightly tougher is the fact that Boys and Girls didn't get to play during the first week of the season. It was scheduled to face Jefferson, but the East New York school was forced to forfeit as it didn't have enough players to fill a team due to a boycott that was the result of its coach getting fired.
"It was tough because you don't get a chance to see where you are at which was a big deal because with such a young team I didn't know where we were," Harding said. "Usually I get nervous before every game and I went into (week two against Erasmus Hall) and I didn't really know where the team was at so I didn't have time to get nervous."
Not surprisingly, Boys and Girls lost 20-0 to Erasmus Hall on Sunday, a team that has gone through many of its own changes since winning the city title last year, but a squad that has significantly more experienced talent and the best offensive player in Brooklyn in Curtis Samuel.
"I think we did pretty good," Harding said. "We just need to keep getting experience, keep getting better. I think you'll see that we have a good team even if they are inexperienced and by the end of the year we're going to win a lot of ball games."