Troy Trentham, shown above running the ball last season, is expected to help improve Mount A’s aerial attack.
Despite the wet and cold conditions during their four-day spring camp, some 60 veteran Mounties looked sharp as they attempted to impress the coaching staff, who took them up the road to Rocky Stone Field in Moncton.
Working out on the artificial surface offered the young men an opportunity to be better prepared when they face opposition teams, all who also have artificial playing fields. The Mounties conduct all of their pre-season training on the local grass fields, which leaves them at somewhat of a disadvantage. However, the reverse is true when teams like Acadia, St. FX and St. Mary’s have to leave their dry surfaces to compete on MacAuley Field, which can sometimes become wet and slippery.
Spring camps are normally held in order for the coaching staff to determine how well the players have stuck to their workout routines. It does not allow for any sophisticated schemes to be introduced due to the brevity of the camp. However, it allows the “braintrust” an opportunity to determine which position needs to be strengthened and which ones are in good shape.
Only a handful of the 38 rookies who have been signed attended the four-day event so neither players nor coaches could assess their potential. But defensive coordinator Scott Brady feels confident that some of the young men who will make their first appearance here in August will definitely be in the conversation for a starting uniform. At least he knows that there will be greater depth at most positions.
All 12 starting players on defense will be returning, as well as a good many others who were designated to the practice squad in 2013 and so it will require an outstanding effort by the newcomers to dislodge the veterans. Brady said he was particularly impressed with the improvement of “quarterback sacker” defensive end Jordan Redding, who had 7.5 sacks to his credit last season and promises to be on the hunt with a greater vengeance next time. And defensive back Mark Sampson is another who is projected to demand a greater role even though it will mean taking a job away from a regular.
Several veterans expressed confidence with the emphasis on the team’s defensive line that features All-Canadian Jacob Leblanc and Combine invitee Quinn Everett in the middle with Redding and Christian Plante at ends.
But head coach Kelly Jeffrey is playing it cool.
“The 2013 season is over and now we are 0-0 like everybody else. The downside is we can’t think about 2013 any more. The upside is that we started 1-4 last year and we can very much start faster this time.”
He went on to say now is their time, as they have never had the bull’s eye on their back before.
“We haven’t been the team to beat yet – it’s a new role and we will have to fight complacency.”
Jeffrey went on to say that last year’s performance was good enough for a Uteck Bowl appearance – and a loss. “If we have designs on taking the next step we can’t stay the same – we have to get better.”
While the defense is returning en masse, the offensive side has been weakened by the loss of key personnel – All-Canadian tailback Jordan Botel, slots Nick Lauder and Nathan Zavarella, lineman Alex Healy and receiver Stu Moore. It looks presently as though Emmanuel Musangu may draw the start as tailback despite his 5’7’ height, but he has quickness in a game designed for his talents, which would be different that the role played last season by Botel.
However, with Brendon Leyh coming of age as the outstanding quarterback in the east and with such sure hands as those possessed by Troy Trentham, Josh Blanchard, Mikele Joseph, Kyle McLean, Matt Rose and Dakota Brush, the Mounties promise to launch an all-out aerial attack as they did in reeling off five straight victories at the end of the season to earn a match against Laval in the national semi-finals.
Football has become a year around program and leaders like Jeffrey, Brady and Gaetan Richard will be recruiting, planning and scheming from now until August when Sackville will be invaded with one hundred or so healthy young student athletes with one goal, to go to the Vanier for the third time in the 60-year history of Mountie football.