Sports

High intensity as 16-team quarter-finals begin

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Saturday, October 21, 2017

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — The race for honours in the rural area schoolboy senior football competition is now down to 16 teams and the intensity will heighten today with the start of the quarter-finals of the ISSA/FLOW daCosta Cup competition.

Nine former winners led by holders Cornwall College will continue their quest for silverware with eight games in four groups following the new look second round that ended on Wednesday.

The competition that started over six weeks ago with almost 90 schools has been whittled down to 16 and will be further lowered to eight after three rounds, ending next Saturday.

The winners on points of the four groups will qualify for the semi-finals of the daCosta Cup and the all-island FLOW Super Cup, while the second placed teams will join the winners in the Ben Francis Knockout.

The fireworks could start as early as today with three match-ups between former winners headlining the schedule of games — Garvey Maceo against Clarendon College in Group One, Cornwall College against Rusea's High in Group Two and Frome Technical versus Dinthill Technical in Group Four.

On paper, the Cornwall College vs Rusea's High game at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, a repeat of last season's FLOW Super Cup quarter-finals that was decided on penalties, could be the headline game, but the Garvey Maceo vs Clarendon College game as well as the Central High against Manchester High could also be close contests.

Rusea's High showed a lot of resilience to come back from a first-leg deficit and beat a courageous Brown's Town team on penalties, but today's game will reignite a rivalry that has been burning hot for decades.

Cornwall College cruised through their second round with a 12-1 aggregate victory over an overmatched Morant Bay High and had a week to rest and heal niggling injuries, but Rusea's High could have momentum on their side in front of what is expected to be a massive crowd.

The champions have been on a roll with five wins in a row, scoring 24 goals in the process and face a Rusea's High team that has shown signs of slowing down, drawing the final Zone B game against Green Island High then losing to Brown's Town, scoring just three goals in regulation time in their last three games.

Daniel Reid has been the most consistent scorer for Rusea's, while the pint-sized Jhavoy Diaz has also provided support, but as they showed against Brown's Town a week ago, they can create a ton of scoring chances.

Shavon McDonald has taken up the scoring mantle for Cornwall College, despite playing deep in the midfield, with 14 goals overall, but the Cornwall College coaching staff will be pleased to see Giovanni Reid scoring a double last week, with Aiden Jokomba, Trevaughn Walker and Shaquan Reid all finding the back of the net with consistency over the last few games.

Clarendon College have won every game played so far and will take their perfect record to Juici field against a Garvey Maceo team that eliminated a good Seaforth High team and will be full of confidence.

Clarendon College boast a number of impressive attacking players but they will face a defence that has only allowed two goals in 12 games played but those two goals came in back-to-back games, one that Garvey Maceo lost to Central High in the Zone N decider.

Dinthill Technical breezed through the first round scoring over 50 goals but stuttered in the first leg of their second round game against Bellefield High and will face a well drilled and well coached Frome Technical team led by head coach Aaron Lawrence at Frome Sports Club today.

Lawrence masterminded Frome Technical's 1-0 aggregate win over a fancied Munro College team in the previous round and his experience will be tested to its extent in what seems to be one of the toughest zones.

Dinthill Technical are led by the free-scoring Kaheem Parris, who has bagged 23 goals so far with Andre Fletcher and Clive Freckleton both expected to be in the hunt for goals today.

The Group One game between former champions St James High, who are returning to the quarter-finals for the first time in two years, and Spot Valley will also be interesting.

While St James High were cruising against Mile Gully with a 7-0 aggregate win, Spot Valley made hard work of Fair Prospect, drawing their first leg game 2-2 then winning 3-1 at Jarrett Park on Wednesday, but missed no fewer than six gilt edged scoring chances.

Today Spot Valley High's Courtney Chisholm will have a big stage on which to show his qualities, but faces a St James High team that looks to be rounding into form with Ewan Barton rediscovering his early season scoring form with four goals over both legs against Mile Gully.

Central High are one of the dark horse teams this year but their mettle will be tested against a Manchester High team that has a 12-game unblemished record all season.

Manchester High have sparkling statistics, scoring 58 goals and conceding just twice, but Central High match their defensive record with just two against as well.

While Central High will be relying heavily on the scoring form of Donald Rhule, Manchester High's coach Andrew Edwards has the luxury of several players who could produce the goods.

After a relatively quiet first round where he only scored four times, Manchester High's Ajay Chin has matched that total in the second round already and along with Marlando Maxwell, Okeem Powell and Brandon Brown, will lead the team today.

The Glenmuir High and Holmwood Technical game at Manchester High could prove crucial to their hopes in Group Three with STETHS away to Little London at Frome.

Glenmuir High have managed to fly under the radar despite a spotless record of 10 wins including a 9-1 aggregate win against Oracabessa High in the second round.

Holmwood Technical have been one of the best defensive teams, conceding zero goals in their 10 first round games before a 3-2 aggregate win over the higher ranked Paul Bogle High in the second round.

Little London could be the minnows of Group Three but STETHS must prove their worth in a tough group if they are to extend their record of making it to at least one semi-final for an eighth straight year.

STETHS struggled against Cedric Titus in their second round first-leg game at Jarrett Park, winning 3-2 before winning 2-0 at home and face yet another tricky away game to a Little London team that will be eager to prove themselves after twice digging themselves out of holes against Alston High in the second round.

Lennon High will start favourites against St Mary Technical, but only on the scoring form of Kwesi Watts, who scored all the team's four goals in the second round against Port Antonio High.

Watts, who was a big part of their run to the Ben Francis KO title last year, scored just three times in the first round and they will also have the services of Leonardo Jibbison, who sat out Tuesday's game on suspension.

Games today

GROUP ONE

Garvey Maceo vs Clarendon College @ Juici Field @ 3:00 pm

St James vs Spot Valley @ Catherine Hall @ 4:00 pm

GROUP TWO

St Mary Tech vs Lennon @ Highgate Comm Centre @ 3:00 pm

Cornwall College vs Rusea's High @ Catherine Hall @ 6:00 pm

GROUP THREE

Little London vs St Elizabeth @ Frome Sports Club @ 3:00pm

Glenmuir vs Holmwood @ Manchester High @ 3:00pm

GROUP FOUR

Central vs Manchester High @ Juici Field @ 1:00pm

Frome vs Dinthill Technical @ Manchester High @ 1:00pm

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