STETHS ready for new ‘mission'
Come Saturday afternoon when the defending Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/FLOW daCosta Cup champions St Elizabeth Technical High School kick off their campaign against Black River High School at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in a 3 p.m. fixture, it will be, according to head coach Omar Wedderburn, the start of a serious mission.
"This is more than just another title defence," he told The Gleaner. "For us, it is the beginning of a mission to win this title in 2016."
STETHS have been one of the most consistent teams in the daCosta Cup over the last five years and enter this season not only as the title holders, but one of the top five favoured to go all the way.
The other four top contenders are 2015 beaten finalists Dinthill Technical, Cornwall College, Lennon High, and Clarendon College, who defeated STETHS in the 2014 final. Multiple winners Rusea's and Glenmuir are also considered true contenders.
Drawn in a tricky Zone E, the champions will have to negotiate tough opposition from not only Black River, but also the much-improved Lacovia High, Maggotty, Newell High, and, of course, top rivals Munro, College.
Wedderburn, however, feels new seasons bring new challenges, but his players will once again rise to the occasion.
"We have never been a team based on individualism. Instead, we are one unit. Win, lose, or draw, we remain one STETHS team, and this unity is what gets us where we always want to be," Wedderburn said when asked about the strength of his squad.
"Last year, we did extremely well as a team. The standout players will emerge as the season evolves. We don't worry about that. In 2015, we used 26 players all
season, and we have a vast number of them returning, so we are optimistic," he said.
They have retained several members of their title-winning team, including Chris-Andrew Dixon, their captain from last year. Their pre-season wasn't all good, but Wedderburn believes it did enough to gauge his team's potential heading into the season opener on Saturday.
"You never win a title based on pre-season form, so we are not concerned about that. We had good days and bad days in our pre-season and took those in our stride," said the STETHS coach.
"But overall, it has shown us where we needed to be and what to do on this new mission. Now it's up to all of us to stay focused and take charge," said the always philosophical Wedderburn.
Eighty-eight high schools are down to participate in this year's daCosta Cup competition, 10 more than last year.