SACKVILLE, N.B. – In appointing Kyle Graves his new offensive coordinator, coach Peter Fraser is not only calling on a young man he knows well, but a man who was one of the top quarterbacks of his generation.
Graves led the Acadia Axemen to national semifinals in 2011 and 2012. Fraser coached him at Acadia for four years.
Graves followed a long line of great quarterbacks to play for Jeff Cummins but proved to be one of the best. He possessed a strong and accurate arm, could read defenses with the best and provided that all important extra dimension – quick feet, meaning he was always a threat to run the option.
With the Mounties it’s hoped he will be successful in passing on some of these traits to a group of young men who will be seeking to take over the pivot sport for the Mounties in 2019 and beyond.
Former coach Kelly Jeffrey had such a talent, as he worked closely with his signal callers and enjoyed great success with previous teams he coached, but also in Sackville, with his prize student being Brendan Leyh who led the Mounties to a pair of national semifinal games.
Unlike Gaétan Richard, who recently resigned as a full time assistant and offensive coordinator, Graves will hold down a part-time position and will serve as both coordinator and quarterback coach as well as call the offensive plays. Also having been an all-conference punter he may also work with the special teams.
The new man in town has a vast amount of experience, both as a player and coach. He served one season as offensive coordinator at Acadia. The 29-year-old has also coached the Huronia Stallions in his hometown of Barrie, Ont.
Following his university career, Graves spent five seasons (2013-2017) with the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts of the CFL as a receiver and special teams player.
With a strong staff of assistants, Fraser has just one holdover from the Jeffrey era in offensive line coach Terry Tait.
As he rebuilds the Mountie program in his own image he will have a strong staff that will include Zak Colangelo, formerly of York Lions, and James Price, a co-appointee with Football New Brunswick, who were added for the 2017 season.
The Mounties went 2-6 during the past season, the first of the Fraser era, and the recruiting process has been going well. Fans are contemplating a new and perhaps more explosive offense under Graves who may also have an “ace-in-the-hole” in a seasoned rookie as signal caller.
The team is expected, as usual, to field a big offensive line that will include former Titan Ross McCormack, a fine receiving corps that will have Josh Hicks, Malik Richards and Sackville’s Aidan O’Neal, a fresh running game following graduation of the twosome of Chris Reid and Kiel Ambursley, a young defensive line, a strong linebacking corps topped by Damian Halstead and former Titan Dylan Cormier and a rebuilt secondary.
Those who are long team supporters hope for a rather quick return to the top of the heap but such accomplishments require long-term planning and proper recruitment of top talent to be supplemented by outstanding leadership.
All of these aspects are vital but, at another level, the importance of a strong coaching team could no better be exhibited than the one that has turned the Tantramar Titans into a legend and which promises to continue.