It became evident during the recent Mount Allison Mounties spring football camp that an entirely new culture is being cultivated within the ranks of the 65-year-old franchise.
Observers confirmed many of the comments coming from the players that the future will see a much “looser” squad on the field, with less rigid control exerted from above.
“The players actually seemed to be having fun,” commented one local fan who observed some of the workouts. “They were allowed to enjoy the game and there were far less commands and demands from the coaching staff.”
Coach Peter Fraser is entering his second season as head coach of the Mounties following eight years as associate head coach of the Acadia Axemen and one with Windsor. He’s brought a new philosophy, one that places more emphasis on the players themselves to challenge each other to step up and assume responsibility for their own actions and behaviour.
It will be interesting to watch and see if this philosophy proves successful after years of military-style management.
There was a period when players could not take a water break as coaches demanded total obedience and harboured a “boot-camp” atmosphere.
Fraser said following this year’s spring camp he was comfortable with what he saw over the Easter-shortened sessions that began April 18 and was shortened so players could return to their families for the Easter holiday feast.
Remembering that only players who were here last year were on the field – none of the recruits were eligible due to insurance issues – Fraser and his staff were satisfied with what they saw.
“They all looked great as a result of the off-season weight program conducted by coach Zak Conangelo,” said Fraser. “There may have been a few mild surprises but, overall, I was content with the performances.”
At quarterback, the coach said there had been four in camp with Hunter Sturgeon and David Patry catching his eye.
Sturgeon, a native of Fredericton and former signal caller with the UNB Reds in the Maritime Football League, showed a sound knowledge of the style of play. Paltry is a native of Moncton who played his high school ball with Orleans Bengals prior to enrolling at Mount Allison last year.
Two others, including Caleb Melanson of Kentville, were handicapped due to injuries.
This group will be joined by at least three others vying for the role of pivot when pre-season camp opens Aug. 12. Logan Grossmans of Riverview, Justin (JV) Vogels and Julian Wytinck of Manitoba will be in the mix.
The position became vacant with the graduation of Troy Downton and Fraser also has to look at the running game, since two former all-conference backs – Chris Reid and Keil Ambursley – will be gone through graduation.