Youngsters are in the middle of a recruitment war between the two representatives from Peterborough.
For 10 years, the Ontario Football Conference’s Peterborough Wolverines were the only show in town. The choice now is yours after the upstart Peterborough Otters has been granted a franchise for the regional division of the Ontario Provincial Football League.
There aren’t many area players who haven’t received calls, sometimes several, from both teams looking for a signing.
“I’m feeling a lot of pressure from both teams to make a decision,” said Sam Levasseur, an 11th grade Thomas A. Stewart student who has played Wolverines football for four years. “As far as they say they want you and what do they have to do to get you here. Why do you feel insecure? It’s both teams. “
Levasseur said he was enjoying his time with the Wolverines and his teammates to the full while the Otters promise player development.
“On one side of the scale, I want to play with the team that I’ve been with and loyal to for so long and I’ve spent many hours developing my skills. On the other side of the scale, there are many exactly the same and more development opportunities. “
There is peer pressure pulling from both sides.
“It’s hard to make a decision when you have so many different influences around you,” he said.
The confusing thing is that the leagues have different age ratings for juniors and seniors. The OPFL is grades 9-10 for JV and 11-13 for SV. The OFC added an extra year to JV, now 9/11, and SV so that players who missed the 2020 season can have an extra year in each age group.
Younger players seem to tend towards Otters and older towards Wolverines. To make matters worse, the Wolverines have a number of high school coaches that many players also play for.
It was an easy decision for some players like Silas Hubert who has loyalty to the Wolverines or Henry Walsh who picked the Otters, but many are undecided.
“The otters are new so everyone is curious about what they’re up to,” said Spencer Watchorn, an 11th grade student from St. Peter who played Wolverines for three years.
The Otters organized a seven-on-seven autumn league in 2020 as there was no football on site. They followed with a flashy social media presence, a medium that the Wolverines practically didn’t exist. It has piqued interest, and it is only recently that the Wolverines took on social media.
“They kind of teamed up because the otters kind of shook the tree,” said Watchorn. “Now they both have different programs that I think are amazing, and the coaching staff on both sides are great. I find it difficult to choose. “
Watchorn hopes to get the university’s attention and staying with the Wolverines at JV might be better than playing less senior with the Otters.
“Everyone is pressured about the otters because it’s so new that everyone is drawn to the idea of change rather than the wolverine’s culture,” he said.
Ethan Coles, a 12th grade student at Haliburton Highlands, was in his 10th year with the Wolverines.
“It’s a difficult decision because we’ve already made one,” said Coles, “but there’s a new team that looks very promising.”
There’s a comfort level with the Wolverines and a buzz about the otters, but also a risk, he said.
“Because it’s new, we don’t know what could happen,” said Coles.
Walsh, the Norwood District quarterback, would have played his first re-season with the Wolverines if 2020 hadn’t been canceled. He played in the Otters Fall League and wasn’t sure the Wolverines would return in 2021. When they called, he had made a note of where most of his Norwood teammates go to the otters.
“I train with Joe Joncas, the Otter’s head coach and offensive coordinator, so I’m with him all the time. I thought that would be more beneficial than being in multiple locations, ”said Walsh.
Hubert, a 12th grade Norwood student, recently got involved in the Queen’s University football program. He’s not sure if he’ll play rep this year, but if he does he’ll stay with the Wolverines.
“I’m a wolverine through and through,” said Hubert. “I am by no means against the Otters, but I am a Wolverines player… They did so much for me. They are a great program, great people, they are all volunteers and great people. “
They played a big part, he said, in helping him get to Queen.
“It’s not that the Otters won’t have that sort of thing, but the Wolverines did that for me, so I’m grateful to the whole organization,” said Hubert.