With the Coach is a weekly series featuring a conversation with a local coach.
Coach: Warren McCaffrey, 45-year-old Pierrefonds resident and self-employed businessman.
Team: North Shore Lions bantam football team
Years coached: 14, first with Lions
Playing experience: Hudson High School
Best coaching tip: Teach life lessons
Warren McCaffrey has guided the North Shore Lions to first place in the Quebec Bantam Football League. Now he’s gearing his team up for the playoffs.
How is your first season as Lions head coach going?
McCaffrey: Not so bad. We had a big game against Sun Youth last week. It was back and forth, back and forth. We ended up winning that one. What’s interesting this year is that the top six teams are so close. It’s a lot of fun.
Are the days of North Shore crushing the opposition over?
McCaffrey: I think so. With sco-laire football and sports études putting in their programs, that hurts everybody.
Have you guys felt the pinch?
McCaffrey: Absolutely, with John XXIII (in Dorval). We used to have all the athletes from A Ma Baie. We have no A Ma Baie kids on our team this year.
Where are most of your players from?
McCaffrey: Well, this year we have a lot of Alexander Park guys. Next year, there is a big crop of Sunnybrooke kids coming up. It varies. This year we have a mostly first-year team.
Where did they all go?
McCaffrey: Some of them went to play scolaire. We have a young team. This is the first year since 2001 that the Lions have a starting first-year quarterback. In 2001, it was Liam Mahoney, another Alexander Park guy.
Who’s your QB?
McCaffrey: It’s Matt Zacovick. He’s very good. He’s one of the top QBs in the league. There are a lot of pocket quarterbacks, but Matt runs.
How many players are on the roster?
McCaffrey: We’ve got a total of 37 on the roster. My philosophy is if you can’t be there, you can’t be on the team. We only got 90 kids at tryout camp, plus we make the Cheetahs as well.
With its winning tradition, is there pressure coaching Lions?
McCaffrey: There is always pressure. I kind of put it aside and I do the best I can, win or lose. In the Lions Den, if you look on the wall at who the Lions coaches were over the years, everyone knows who the coaches are who didn’t win a provincial championship. (Laughs.)
Is there parity in bantam football?
McCaffrey: Look, the league is very even now. But the expectations (to win) are there. I took the job knowing that.
Is coaching football time consuming?
McCaffrey: It’s a lot. But it’s like any other head coaching job. You have to put the time in. I watch a lot of videotape at night at home. I have a young daughter, so I make sure I do everything after she’s gone to bed.
Is there an advantage to home field advantage in the playoffs?
McCaffrey: Hopefully, one thing about home field advantage in the playoffs is that we’ll play on a dirt field at Riverdale. It’s a tough field to play on when you’re not used to it. And we always hope for rain. We like the rain. (Laughs.)