Don Bosco Ironmen
Don_Bosco_CardThe Don Bosco Ironmen lost more than 30 seniors through graduation, but last year’s state champs believe they will be a good team this season.

“We absolutely believe that we’re going to a good football this year,” Toal said. “We’ve been down that many [players] before.”

The Ironmen finished the 2009 season with a perfect 12-0 record, outscoring their opponents by an average of more than 35 points a game. The team defeated St. Peter’s Prep 35-15 to win its fourth consecutive non-public state title. They finished the season ranked No. 1 in USA Today’s top 25 high school football teams in the country and were national champions. Toal was named was coach of the year by USA Today. Ten seniors committed to playing for Division I colleges.

Don Bosco will reload its 85-member roster this season with freshman quarterback Gibrill Peppers, tailback Paul Canevari, and linebacker Lars Larson.

Peppers will start at quarterback for the Ironmen this season.

“He’s got a lot of talent,” Toal said. “He deserves to start. He’s the best quarterback we have.”

Larson, a senior, is only 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds, but that doesn’t stop him from making plays and going up against bigger, stronger opponents.

“He’s smart and quick,” Toal said. “He’s got all the intangibles. He doesn’t have great size, but he has great instincts as a football player.”

Many players will only play on side of the ball this year. This gives the Ironmen the advantage of putting out fresh legs on both sides of the ball, a luxury most public schools cannot afford. The players plan on outplaying and outperforming their opponents this season.

“They’re going to work for everything they get,” Toal said. “Everyday they have to come in here with their lunch pales ready to work. They are going to earn everything they get in this program.”

Because the team has such a large roster, players will help each other and teach each how to play the game correctly.

Some coaches of public school teams have said that there is an imbalance between the quality of players that parochial schools, such as Don Bosco or St. Peter’s, get and the quality of players they get.

“I think public schools used to be as competitive as the private schools, but recently football is treated as more of a recreational thing, where years ago it was treated as the most important thing,” Toal said. “It’s no different now than the other sports at public schools. There are not a lot of places where it is as important as it once was.”

Regardless of the level of talent a team possesses there is an immutable, universal characteristic football possesses.

“Football is the closest thing there is to the game of life,” Toal said. “Our guys get knocked down all the time and when you get knocked down you either stay down or get back up. Life throws you curve balls and you’ve got to be able to get back up. Those are important things that these kids learn everyday.”

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