Another year of Secondary Schools Football action has come to an end. During three months of football, local fans experienced some of the best young talent present in Trinidad and Tobago.
In general, the SSFL season was an interesting and at times exciting. The fans once again turned out in their numbers to witness the upcoming of our future National stars.
The North Zone once again proved to be a closely contested one, with the teams proving to be potent , and the big guns earned fanatical support each time they took the field.
Eventual champions Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive defended their zonal title but not without a fight from the other competing teams in particular, Queen's Royal College and Malick SC.
At the end of the first round of the league they were running second behind Malick, who at the time looked poised to take the crown. Malick suffered a surprise defeat to Morvant/LAventille and they paid the price for that in the end. Further defeats to St. Mary's College, Mucurapo and Tranquillity Government dispatched all hopes of them making it into the 'Big 7." Queen's Royal College looked an uncertain side during the early period of the season, suffering four defeats including a 5-0 thrashing by St Anthony's College. When the second round got going, coach Roger Prince was able to get his Royalians playing with renewed vigour which saw them being unbeaten in their last seven matches.
The introduction of striker Carron Williams and the presence of Linton Gaston and Kenrick Ramirez saw the Royalians end up second in the Zone.. However, their fine run was halted in the 'Big 7" with losses to Naparima College and El Dorado SC.
St Mary's College displayed a good brand at football at times. Led by Marcus Weekes and with an attack spearheaded by goal machine Scott Sealey and Kirt Dorsett, backed by midfielders Matthew Camacho and Brandon Barry, Ken Butcher's' unit appeared better than their final placing would imply. The Saints were unbeaten in their opening four games but failed to build on this. Successive defeats to Malick and Fatima, along with three further losses in the second round plunged them into trouble.
Both themselves and St Anthony's College featured in probably the most pulsating affair of the season. That being the Intercol quarter final match which St Anthony's prevailed 4-3. The only other encounter which would have contained as much drama and excitement would have been the semi final clash between the "Tigers" and St Benedict's College.
The "Tiger" lost their Intercol crown this year and in general failed to deliver the type of play that was expected of them.. Despite comprising the talent of Damien Westfield, Gary Gibbings, Sean Cooper, Kevin Pierre and Marcus Rodriguez, they finished third from the bottom spot.
Fatima's stable line up enabled them to finish fourth. New boys Tranquillity finished seventh and showed promise for the future.
For Morvant/Laventille, their last place finishing means that they will have to contest the Senior Division next year. In their side Mucurapo ended up ahead of the pack due to a fine all round display from
players such as Kareem Young, Dale Findley, Josh Johnson, Nathaniel Charles, Kerry and Christian Baptiste. They scored 46 goals during the league.
Other than the top two teams, Ron La Forest's team showed strong will power to hold off an inspirea Naprima College in the Trinidad final.
However, the task of capturing the "Big 7" was too much for skipper Dexter Pacheco and his fellow teammates. Having to play Signal Hill SC away at Shaw Park, they perished in the sister isle, going down by 2-0 scoreline. It was double disater for them having already lost last year's final to QRC.
Malick, Fatima, and CIC must be admired for their ability to bet the odds and remain in the top flight even though all would have seemed lost at the end of a long hard season. There were 202 goals scored in 112 matches in this zone. In the East/Central Zone, El Dorado Secondary and Arima SC flattered only to deceive in a zone which ultimateky did the same.
El Dorado SC captured the Zonal title but was the most they could attain. Led by Adrian Nunez along with the likes of Ricky Abdool and Kwame Thomas, the "Blue Thunder looked promising throughout the season but failed to deliver the goods when it mattered most..
Having scored eleven victories in 14 matches, they finished a comfortable 5 points ahead of their closest rivals Arima. At the half way stage of the league competition, both "El DO" and Arima looked threatening but failed to impress during the Intercol. Both these team were head and head with each other until the late stages of the season but "El Do " took advantage of Arima's loss to Barataria to seal the deal.
Third place Barataria finished 14 points off the winners but had plenty to cheer about. St Augustine, central outfits Presentation College, Chaguanas and Carapichaima flickered brightly at times but ended up with little to show for their hard work.
The biggest disappointment of the season was the uninspiring play of last placed North Eastern College They lost all 14 matches, conceding a mammoth 75 goals while managing to score just 9.
Across in the sister isle of Tobago, giants Signal Hill SC won the title without having to put up with much of a challenge from the other competing teams. Elizabeth's College were the only ones capable of giving them much of a test. However, the "Hill" their dominance of their zone into national success. When having to meet Southerners Princes Town Sc in the Intercol semi final, they faltered 1-0.
However, they would make amends in the "Big 7," taking matters inot their hand at Shaw Park. The"Hill" were inspired by the presence of present National coach Bertille St Clair, a former Signal Hill coach himself. Having had a couple sessions with St Clair, the Tobagonians executed their superiority over their opponents in what turned out to be a game of enthralling football. Hats off to manager Xavier King and the likes of skipper Addison Baird, Jason Nelson, Keon Price, Shelton Williams, and the rest of the "Hill."