Mounties’ spring train­ing camp proves team is ready for 2017 sea­son

Sackville Tribune - - OP-ED - Wal­lie Sears Write Call

There may not have been many real sur­prises, at least for the coach­ing staff, but for those fans who took in the fi­nal scrimmage there were some in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place at the Mount Al­li­son Moun­tie foot­ball spring camp.

For one, it looks as though there will be no rest for quar­ter­backs. With sopho­more Jakob Loucks, who was named the top rookie in Canada in 2016, guar­an­teed a start­ing role, both Graham Kelly and Troy Down­ton took their turns as re­ceivers.

And why not? Usu­ally back­ups sel­dom get off the bench and hold down a po­si­tion on a lim­ited ros­ter. Quar­ter­backs nor­mally have good hands and def­i­nitely un­der­stand the game and so should be able to con­trib­ute to the of­fence. In the case of Kelly, the Mounties will have the tallest (six-foot-seven) com­ing out as a slot back and few de­fen­sive backs should be able to in­ter­cept a pass that only he could reach.

Coach Scott Brady is not averse to mix­ing up peo­ple in po­si­tions and proved it dur­ing his first sea­son as head coach. He had de­fen­sive play­ers tak­ing turns at line­backer, cor­ner, half and safety and this re­sulted in some con­fu­sion by op­pos­ing play­ers.

Brady said spring camps are held mainly to give him and his staff an op­por­tu­nity to see how much the play­ers have im­proved and ma­tured dur­ing the off sea­son weight train­ing pro­gram. He said he was pleas­antly pleased with what he saw over the four days of work­outs, cul­mi­nat­ing with the in­ter­squad matchup on the fi­nal day.

He, along with fans, agreed that se­nior run­ning back Keil Am­burs­ley has ad­vanced tremen­dously. The for­mer All-con­fer­ence tail­back was un­stop­pable and showed break­away speed and a new quick­ness. Chris Reid, a for­mer All-cana­dian tail­back, missed the camp with an in­jury. So it ap­pears as though the Moun­tie ground game will again be one of the best in the coun­try.

Re­ceiver Ma­lik Richards, de­fen­sive back Ter­rell Con­nell, of­fen­sive line­man Chris Pos­til, rush end Jesse My­ers and a cou­ple of oth­ers who saw lit­tle ac­tion the pre­vi­ous year also caught the eyes of the staff.

While ob­servers felt it will re­quire some re­jig­ging in the de­fen­sive sec­ondary due to the grad­u­a­tion of Michael Bo­han and Dy­lan Cos­sar, this was not the view of Brady who will be de­vot­ing much of his at­ten­tion to this sec­tor of the team as well as serv­ing as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and head coach.

“We have some very good young men who have worked hard for the past six months ready and more than will­ing to step up,” he said dur­ing a re­cent dis­cus­sion. And it’s ex­pected a cou­ple of the in­com­ing rook­ies will push vet­er­ans for a spot.

In the mean­time, the en­tire team has been sent on their way for the sum­mer with strict in­struc­tion to re­port to camp on Aug. 11 pre­pared to face the fire. There will be no time to get into con­di­tion, rather new schemes will have to be learned and prac­ticed in readi­ness for the open­ing game just two weeks later.

With a re­in­forced re­ceiv­ing corps, the one-two at­tack of Am­burs­ley and Reid, and what amounts to the big­gest of­fen­sive line in the his­tory of the team it would seem that scor­ing points should not be a real prob­lem. The veteran unit will av­er­age close to 300 pounds a man, with 330-pound Brock O’brien set­ting the trend, while 300-pound Mike Zwicker barely makes the av­er­age.

“It was ob­vi­ous that a lot of work has been done since last sea­son,” said Brady. “We have sched­uled weight room time al­most daily and sev­eral team gath­er­ings in the gym where we could work on plays.”

As usual, the coach de­clined to make com­par­isons be­tween this camp and the one a year ear­lier, say­ing both had gone well and he ex­pects some good things to hap­pen when the whis­tle sounds to open the up­com­ing cam­paign.

Those who took in the scrimmage came away ex­cited. They re­al­ize noth­ing comes easy and greater com­pe­ti­tion is ex­pected with the ar­rival of Bish­ops Gaiters as a new en­try in the At­lantic Con­fer­ence. But they have a sense that their own Mounties will be up to the chal­lenge and should be in the Loney Bowl come Novem­ber.

For­mer All-cana­dian tail­back Chris Reid missed the Mounties’ re­cent train­ing camp due to an in­jury but he is ex­pected to once again be a im­pact player when the 2017 sea­son of­fi­cially gets un­der­way.


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