MONTEGO BAY, St James — DEFENDING ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup champions Rusea's High School out of Hanover is favoured to start on a winning note against Herbert Morrison Technical High in the season's opening encounter scheduled for the Catherine Hall Sports Complex on Saturday.
However, although Rusea's coach, Anthony 'Follies' Williams, is aiming for a positive start, he has no intention of taking any chances with the Montego Bay-based schoolboy team which is returning to the competition after a one-year hiatus.
"We expect a tough encounter as we play Herbert Morrison in Montego Bay... you could very much say we are playing them in their backyards but we know what to expect. We are prepared for that," Williams remarked.
But, Herbert Morrison's coach, Dane Randall, who noted that crowd support will be equally split between both teams, also fancied his charges chances of leaving the Catherine Hall Sports complex on a winning note.
"Most definitely three points is what all coaches dream about in all stages of the game. We want to put our best foot forward. I will still be happy if we get one, but if I get none I will not be happy," Randall stressed.
"We are as prepared as can be. The boys are in great spirits. I just take the game as it comes; looking at the game; assess the game and from there on I can charge my boys to go forward and get some goals if it is possible.
But in a show of high regard for his opponents, Randall noted that it will not be an easy task to upstage the defending champions.
"It is the defending champion we are playing so we have to give them their respect," the Herbert Morrison coach told the Observer West during a telephone interview yesterday.
"(But) you have to have a mindset. I am putting my players in a mindset not to think of them (Rusea's) as defending champions."
In the meantime, Williams expressed that a number of his key players are currently nursing injuries which could rule them out of the start of Saturday's opening encounter.
"We have a couple injury concerns. We don't know if those players will be ready for Saturday. Some are more serious than others. But they are key player in the unit. We wait with bated breath to see how much the recovery process will take its course," he said.
He argued that given that the current crop of players is not as good as last year's squad, has given him additional cause for concern.
"Last year we could boast that when we are without certain players we would not have to scratch our heads to find suitable replacement. Now it is not as easy as that. We are just hoping that some of the players we have on the bench who we think are not as much quality can surprise us. We look forward to defending our championship.
He reiterated that his first order of duty is to qualify for the to second round "then we take it from there".
Rusea's will be going in search of their eleventh lien on the daCosta Cup — the symbol of rural schoolboy football dominance — while Herbert Morrison will be looking to win the competition for the third time.
Meanwhile, in the opening game of the double-header, defending Manning Cup champions St George's College will go up against Hydel High. The Manning Cup represents the supremacy of Corporate Area schoolboy football.