Almost an entire new coaching staff made their debut at Bishop Ford High School, a member of the Catholic High Schools Athletic Association.
Known as the Falcons, Ford, located near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, compete in a division against such schools as last Friday’s opponent Msgr. McClancy, Xavier, LaSalle Academy, and St. John’s Prep, just to name a few. In any sport, the varsity attracts most of the attention.
One doesn’t talk much about the lower levels as these boys are just beginners, especially the freshmen. Each of the teams is well balanced, and do not have any superstars. Remember, these kids could be the ‘stars of tomorrow.’ It’s too early to tell. They are young.
More than 50 percent of the players from last year’s Ford varsity team have graduated. Denis Nolan, new head coach of the varsity, started seniors Arend Augustus at forward, Iban Rashed Cooper at guard, Eric Kippins at the swing position, and Andrew Williams at guard and sophomore Joshua Blagrove at forward against Msgr. McClancy of Queens. Cooper, Williams and Kippins all return from last year’s varsity team.
Nolan is no stranger at Bishop Ford, for it came from 1989 to 2008 when he was an assistant to varsity coach Ray Nash, and later moved over to the girl’s team. Last year he was the girl’s varsity coach at Lincoln High School of the public schools system.
When the varsity job became available, he was interviewed by the Ford personnel and took the head coaching job. In addition, he is an alumni from Ford.
Jermaine Campbell is the new head coach and Kharl Francois is assistant coach with the freshmen, and Sal Cacioppo is head junior varsity coach and is assisted by Kamas Champ.
“It was my whole life to be the boys’ varsity coach here,” Nolan said. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. When the situation arose I was really pleased.”
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a student at Ford, Chad Linton is in his first year as student manager. One of his duties is to keep the clock at the table for the junior varsity games. He did so in the middle game of a triple header last Friday.
Chad is getting the experience of being a manager of a basketball team. And he certainly enjoys doing it.
“It’s not what I really wanted to do,” he said. “I’d rather be playing on the team. I’m (still) part of a team. I’m feeling what it is to be part of a (program).
“I’ll be ready for next year when I try out for the varsity. I still have to work on my dribbling, speed and passing. I have to work on everything.”
In the third and feature game last week, Blagrove scored 16 points, six more than Kippins to lead the way for the victorious Falcons’ varsity.
Because of the inexperience on the varsity level, Coach Nolan was fearful for the entire game as the boys might not be able to close ‘it’ out.
“I was very impressed with our mental toughness as we showed in the last 15-20 seconds (of the exciting game),” Nolan said. “They were able to execute and got the big steal and lay-ups. I was happy for them because they came a long way.”
Blagrove turned in an overall decent game and ‘Bam’ Williams with the last second baskets stood out for the hosts.
Overall, the players were very pleased with their performances.
“It’s a learning process and we have to learn to play together,” Kippins said. “We’re looking for team chemistry.”
“We played a tough game,” added Blagrove, a sophomore starter. “We had to make sure that we stayed ‘in it. ’We hope to go all the way this year.”
Joshua’s father, Samuel Blagrove, a former soccer player in his native land of Jamaica, always tells his son ‘never hang your head. Always be a leader, and when people need you be there.”
“Defense is what I’m best at,” said Williams who at 5’4” is the shortest player on the roster of 14 team members. “Last year I came off the bench. Now I’m starting.”
Ford’s strengths that will carry them are their inside game, interior play, and tremendous guard play. And they are strong up front. Lack of experience on the varsity level could be a weakness.
“If we work as a team we’ll get the job done,” Williams said.
There were two other preliminary games when the gym was packed to near capacity on Friday evening. The first one was a freshman one, which Ford came out on the victorious side. But everyone in attendance was impressed with Ford’s guard Mark Jones, who has a great deal of potential, for he could do almost anything on the court. He scored 31 points, one more than his teammate Titus Stewart, . Both are very talented players.
In the middle game, McClancy’s junior varsity defeated Ford.