Buf­falo roam in new home

Football Bisons pumped about start­ing sea­son at In­vestors Group Field

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By Kyle Jahns

COACH Brian Dobie and his team are about to en­ter a brand new era of Man­i­toba Bisons football. For 47 years they called the rub­ber end zones and creak­ing bleach­ers of Univer­sity Sta­dium their home. But on Fri­day the team will launch a new era with their first game at In­vestors Group Field, against the Al­berta Golden Bears.

Ev­ery player and coach on the team has their own rea­sons to be ex­cited about the new sta­dium.

Line­backer Al Turn­bull is ex­cited for a few rea­sons. He can’t wait to play in what is now one of the best univer­sity football fa­cil­i­ties in the na­tion. Turn­bull is also the pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of Man­i­toba Stu­dents’ Union and be­lieves the sta­dium will ben­e­fit the cam­pus.

“One of our big plat­form points was to make sure we come in and we in­crease stu­dent spirit. And what a way to spear­head it, with the sta­dium. We’re re­ally ex­cited,” Turn­bull said.

All of that ex­tra ex­cite­ment and hype has also led to ex­tra pres­sure. Turn­bull and the rest of the Bisons re­al­ize how crit­i­cal it is to pick up a win and get fans in­ter­ested early. In­vestors Group Field has room for a lot more fans than Univer­sity Sta­dium and Turn­bull hopes to see not only stu­dents, but all sports fans come to the game.

“We need peo­ple to get in and see our tal­ent. They need to see how we re­act un­der pres­sure, be­cause there’s a lot of pres­sure,” Turn­bull said. “Once we start to win I think we can re­ally as­sert our­selves as a dom­i­nat­ing force in the Canada West.”

Even Dobie is feel­ing the pres­sure. A win against the Golden Bears would pay trib­ute to both the his­tory and fu­ture of the team.

“You’re not just play­ing for Fri­day night. You’re not just play­ing for the sea­son. You’re play­ing for 47, al­most 50, years of Bisons football that went through all kinds of good times and hard times in a dif­fer­ent fa­cil­ity. And you’re go­ing to be play­ing for ev­ery­one com­ing up in the next seven or eight decades,” Dobie said.

The Bisons are look­ing for their first home-opener win since 2008. Dur­ing Dobie’s 17 years as the coach of the team, the Bisons have gone 9-8 in reg­u­larsea­son open­ers, but only 3-4 at home.

Last year, the Bisons fin­ished 4-4 and lost in the first round of the play­offs. But Dobie’s worked hard this train­ing camp to get the Herd pre­pared. He’s con­fi­dent in his start­ing quar­ter­back Jor­dan Yantz, he has two danger­ous of­fen­sive weapons in run­ning back An­thony Coombs and re­ceiver Nic Dem­ski, and he be­lieves his de­fen­sive line is one of the stingi­est in the Canada West con­fer­ence.

The Bisons will be the first test for new Bears coach Chris Mor­ris, a for­mer CFL of­fen­sive line­man with three Grey Cup rings. Dobie doesn’t know what to ex­pect from Al­berta, but he’s done all he can to pre­pare for the game.

“We are who we are. We’ve re­cruited it, we’ve coached it and now it’s up to them to go out and let’s see how it all lays out,” Dobie said.

But be­fore Dobie will see if the Herd will be­come the first home team to win at In­vestors Group Field, he’ll have an­other big mo­ment.

“I know that when we’re wait­ing in the tun­nel to be in­tro­duced, I’m go­ing to be re­ally emo­tional. I won’t lie to you, I might tear up,” Dobie said. “That will be gone in mo­ments, once we get onto the field.”

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