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 offense. In the case of Kelly, the Mounties will have the tallest (6’7”) 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.