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Coach pleads for peace

Rusea's tactician Reynolds dedicates D'Cup victory to crime-ravaged west

Friday, December 08, 2017

The entire parish of Hanover will be celebrating the victory of Rusea's High over Clarendon College in the final of the ISSA/FLOW DaCosta Cup final for weeks to come as few would have given them a chance over the marauding team from central Jamaica who had won every game they played in the competition up to that point.

Despite an impressive come-from-behind 5-2 win over favourites St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in the semi-finals, Rusea's went into the final as massive underdogs and had to produce another come-from-behind 2-1 win to gain their 11th hold on the title last Saturday, a win which puts them just one behind main rivals Cornwall College in number of titles.

In the midst of the celebrations, however, man of the moment and new coach Vassell Reynolds had a sound message for all the celebrating fans from the parish.

“This one is for the school community, for the Rusea's community, for the Lucea fans and the entire Hanover fans. I am dedicating this victory to the west, for I want to stem the crime and violence; we are pleading for the crime and violence to stop. I think that as a school and as a team and as a community we need to play our part in terms of stemming the crime and violence in the west,” he said.

The section of the island from which the newly crowned DaCosta Cup champions hail, has been rocked by runaway crime and violence in recent times, and despite only taking over the conditioning of the team in the summer, the situation has not been lost on the teacher/coach who was preparing Wolmer's Boys last season in the Manning Cup in Kingston.

Reynolds has had a remarkable last three years coaching at the schoolboy level, lifting the Walker Cup in 2015, then the Super Cup in 2016 at Wolmer's before leaving the east for the west to now land the DaCosta Cup with Rusea's.

Despite his winning record in the last two seasons, he was still at a loss for words to describe how it felt to defy all the odds and come away with a championship victory.

“Words can't express how I feel; it is a special moment. All the praise to the players and fans. I told the players just go out there and play and the fans will push us over the line,” Reynolds said.

Despite his belief in his players and the support of the fans, he did admit to having some concerns at the half-time interval.

“I was a bit concerned at half time, but I wasn't overly worried. I reminded them of the Cornwall game. We had adjusted the way we played in the second half and we played with more urgency in the second half. I told them that they gave 75 per cent in the first half and I asked them to give us 110 per cent in the second half.

“I told them that it would be the most important 45 minutes in their lives, so go out there and press the Clarendon College team a little bit more. We did that and they started to make some errors at the back and we capitalised. (It was a) monumental performance,” he said.

While the fans will continue to celebrate a victory, Reynolds will have to get his charges mentally ready for one more assignment: the battle for all-island supremacy. They will next travel to Kingston tomorrow for a date with Jamaica College who won the Manning Cup title for a fifth consecutive time a day before their own triumph.

Jamaica College have won the Olivier Shield for the last four years and will be bent on making it five-straight.

The game is set for a 5:00 pm start, and once again, Reynolds and his Rusea's team will start as underdogs.

— Dwayne Richards