Jock Talk with Joel Charron: Things to look for at Amherst next year

I know school just got out a few weeks ago and it may be way too early to talk about the upcoming Amherst sports season, however there are so many reasons to be excited, I just couldn’t wait.

Here are a few things to look for next year.

Lady Gens Basketball

Jaylin VandeBovenkamp will make her return after sitting out an entire year with a knee injury. With her and Katie Breault in the front court it will be interesting to see how teams deal with the duo. Add the intensity and leadership of Christine Belcher, Kaylee Williams’ defensive tenacity and some solid juniors moving up it has the making of Amherst’s ninth straight WECSAA title, eighth straight SWOSSAA title and a possible OFSAA medal.

Sr. Boys Football

The team is filled with veterans who still have the bitter taste of last years Wilson Conference finals loss to St. Anne’s in their mouth and let me tell you, these boys are hungry to win. With new head coach John Rudak running things now, the boys will have to learn a new system and translate it into wins. It will be up to returning quarterback Mike Mallender to run the offense, that looked anemic at times last year. The defense, led by LB Corey Gaunt will bring the pain on every down.

Lady Gens Hockey

Dan Pettypiece has this program going in one direction, up. Amherst will be turning most of the team who gave the Lady Gens their first winning season in school history. My sources say Miranda Turner will be returning, which solves the goaltending issue. The young players now have a year under their belts and will be looked upon to take a bigger role with the team. Look for the Lady Gens to have another winning season and perhaps upset a team in the playoffs.

Sr. Boys Basketball

The entire starting five is back, plus key bench players and not to mention some pretty big bodies from junior will hopefully be moving up. Although they have all key players returning, the Bulldogs will have to improve their offense from last year. Mitch Girard, who sometimes disappeared in games last year, will have to be a force for every minute he is on the floor. The front court combination of Mike Mallender and Max Reiner will once again be fun to watch. Matt Duby and Jeff Masson will provide size and rebounding and key reserves Mike McNorgan, Corey Bezaire and Brian Neal will provide scoring off the bench. Some players have told me that anything else than a championship will be a disappointment.

Lady Gens Volleyball

I don’t really know what to expect from this team next year. The girls will gain some size with Jaylin VandeBovenkamp returning but the Lady Gens will have to replace floor general Megan Lavoie.  However, Amherst does have Christine Belcher (who seems to shine brightest under pressure) and any time she is on the floor it seems to raise the play of everyone around her. The girls may not go undefeated but I’m feeling another WECSAA championship.

Boys Hockey

If this year was supposed to be a rebuilding year and they still made the finals, I can’t wait to see what head coach Pat Garrett has in store for next year. The Bulldogs will be losing some pretty heavy firepower and a proven goaltender in Nick Keeler but something tells me not to count these boys out. Mike Popel and Ryan Holzel and Blaine Bechard establish themselves as leaders and the team will feed off them.

These are just a few things that I’m looking forward to next year. Trust me if I had more space I’d be writing a whole lot more. Look for General Amherst to be an absolute force in athletics next year as the possibility of numerous championships on the horizon.

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