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Mareeba High reclaims lost glories

CHAMPIONS: The Mareeba State High School Open mixed team won the All Schools Touch Football championships.

AFTER a decade long hiatus the Mareeba State High School has reclaimed its position as the reigning touch football champions at the recent All Schools Touch Football Championships.

Mareeba State High School entered an Open mixed team into the championship under the tutelage of co-coaches and Mareeba State High School teachers Bryan Alford and Clinton Cifuentes.

Under their guidance and the guidance of captain Shaun Stephens, the MSHS team steamrolled their competition to come away with the win.

Putting up an impressive total of 45 tries with only a measly eight scored against them throughout the tournament MSHS went on to reclaim their position at the top of the podium from last year’s winners Atherton State High School.

The competition was fierce and competitive according to both coaches.

“The team stuck to the structure that they trained, from their warm ups right through to their warm downs,” Mr Cifuentes said.

“Everything they did up here, they transferred down to Townsville.

“From game one they just kept improving and getting better, they never took a step backwards.”

Mr Alford echoed his comments.

“We trained hard, and we trained some very specific defensive and offensive structures,” he said.

“And for us as coaches it was just us saying, stay true to their training.

“Have belief in what they trained for.”

Although the team was scraped together at the last minute by captain Shaun Stephens, the team played cohesive, aggressive and high level touch football.

“We had teams trying to target our link and wing; the smallest girls on the field and they just shut them down every time,” Mr Cifuentes said.

“You can’t break a chain by targeting the weak link if there is no weak link.

“The last three games, the team’s technique in defence was flawless.”

Mr Alford believed in the importance of a proper ‘mixed’ team.

“In order to be successful in a mixed comp, you’ve got to have a solid set of girls.” he said.

“No matter how good your boys are you really can’t cover three weak girls.

“But our girls stood up and played really impressive football.”

The main core of the team was comprised of Jaylen Boyle, Jeremy Bupa and Captain Shaun Stephens who acted as the moral flag for the team.

Mr Cifuentes commented on Shaun’s commitment and eagerness to push for the team.

“Shauny come saw me about two months before the tournament,” he said.

“I said that if you can come to me with a team, I’ll put the nomination in.

“We started off with an open boy’s team and a full open mixed team, but due to commitment issues both teams collapsed into an open mixed team.”

Mr Cifuentes recalls the last time MSHS entered a team in the Touch Championships, in the mid 90s stating that they were the reigning champs before interest died off.

But thanks to the willingness and commitment of the MSHS team, spearheaded by Shaun Stephens, the school has now reclaimed that honour.

With Atherton State High School winning the championship last year, Mr Alford is impressed with the local touch competition.

“It’s a real tip of the hat to the local touch comp,” Mr Alford said

“This region (Tablelands) sent down three of the competing teams; Mareeba, Atherton and Malanda.

“The clubs need to recognise that they have these talented juniors coming through.”

Mr Alford, who is thoroughly involved in the touch football scene outside of school, spoke glowingly about the teams performances, stating that they “constantly improved.”

“I was worried about burning the students out to early in the carnival format,” he said.

“So at about five minutes until end of play, we would run the ball in the corner, kill it, and just play deadlock defence.

“Using this strategy we didn’t have a try scored against us in the last 10 minutes of any game.

“We put our foot on their throat and didn’t let up so to speak.”

Both Mr Alford and Mr Cifuentes are extremely proud of the students, and spoke of them creating a ‘legacy’.

“It was great to see that word getting thrown around,” Mr Alford said.

“Now we’ve got to push the next generation coming through to look at the legacy left behind, and instil a sense of pride within these sorts of accomplishments.

“Next year were going to start planning earlier, train earlier and even participate in the FNQ warm up competition.”

Unfortunately nominations are now closed for the next stage of competition in Brisbane, but this won’t stop coaches Mr Alford and Mr Cifuentes from pushing their students.

“Our next focus will be the interschool touch competition,” Mr Alford said.

“We’ve always played and performed well and this year we will have roughly the same team as the open side.

“So this will be the next stage for the students and us as coaches.”

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