Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Surprise package Green Pond High will take their high-flying act to the Ben Francis KO today with the first match of a double-header at Jarrett Park at 2 p.m. against William Knibb High, while Rusea's tackle Westmoreland's Godfrey Stewart High in the feature match at 4 p.m.
The Gregory Daley-coached Green Pond made sure their historic campaign continued into the inter-zone round with a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 win over St James High, to finish ahead of the 2008 knockout champions in Zone A of their daCosta Cup showdown at Jarrett Park last Saturday and ease into the Ben Francis Cup knockout competition for the first time.
That win, their second over St James High in the daCosta Cup this year, gave them 21 points, three more than the former champions. Their impressive run has seen them also toppling 11-time winners Cornwall College, and momentum could be on their side come today.
"Our success is built on hard work and it is now showing on the field," said Daley.
"I am very happy for the players. It is no longer a secret that our forwards are a major headache for opposing players, and I hoping for another good performance Wednesday against William Knibb," he added.
Daley has his two strikers to thank for their position. Kashaeif Brown leads his team with 11 goals, while fellow front man, national U-17 representative, Peter Campbell, has added five. In tandem, they have scored close to 72 per cent of the number of goals tallied so far by the school.
"I know it is our first year in the Ben Francis competition, but I want to help my school bring home the trophy," said a confident Campbell.
His strike partner, 17-year-old Brown, believes they can make both the Ben Francis and daCosta Cup finals, adding that he, among others in the squad, would not be surprised if they manage to go that far.
Elsewhere, 2009 winners and current daCosta Cup champions Glenmuir High will host Kemps Hill at Jamalco Sports Club.
Rusea's, the four-time winners (1985, 1987, 1992, 1996), appear to be finding form at the right time, albeit with a weakened team and could be too much for Godfrey Stewart to handle. Manchester High, which won Zone F, will take on Christiana, which advanced from Zone G. They will match up at Kirkvine.
Hot favourites Clarendon College will be hoping for a perfect start when they play Marcus Garvey High at the Juici Patties complex. Clarendon made light work of their Zone H opposition, but went down 0-1 to Lennon on Saturday and had six points docked after it came to light they had used a player who was not properly registered. But that should not stop them progressing at the St Ann-based school's expense.
Paul Bogle had life relatively easy in Zone O and will be striving for greater success, having fallen short in both competitions last year. A win over Port Antonio is no foregone conclusion either, as both teams look set to cancel each other out, while Dinthill Technical lock horns with St Mary Technical for the right to move onward in the competition.
STETHS, the defending champions, earned a bye to the quarter-finals when they will take on the winner of the Glenmuir-Kemps Hill match.
Green Pond vs William Knibb
Rusea's vs Godfrey Stewart
Manchester vs Christiana
Clarendon vs Marcus Garvey
St Mary Tech vs Dinthill
Paul Bogle vs Port Antonio
Glenmuir vs Kemps Hill