The Gauntlet

Football boot camp

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Don’t look for parades and soldiers at Calgary’s former Canadian Forces Base this August. In a week and a half, the University of Calgary Dinosaurs football team will be storming and capturing the base for its own use as a training facility. By living and training on the base for five days, the coaching staff hopes to create a focus on football, and only football.

"It will be a good opportunity to be totally focussed on the task at hand, which is getting back into the playoffs," remarked head coach Tony Fasano. By living together, the team should develop strong ties with each other, not only on the field but in everyday life as well. Cohesiveness among a team generally takes a long time to develop, sometimes even multiple seasons.

With the strong nucleus of core players returning this year, and the new style of training camp, the team should be able to create that strength much quicker.

The senior leadership on the team is vital, and Fasano believes that the players that have returned for this season will be able to carry the squad.

In particular, the running backs (headed by Ken Eslinger), quarterbacks (led by Darryl Leason) and receivers will provide an iron-strong heart to the team with their experience and leadership. The offensive line will be slightly inexperienced at the start of the season, but over time, their skill level will allow them to mature. The defensive secondaries are strong, and the linebackers and defensive line have some experience under their immense belts. Alan Giacalone, a disappointed rookie-of-the-year contender last season, will also be back in an important role.

Some key players have left this season, including receiver Ryan Carruthers who left for the Hamilton Tigercats, and All-Canadian O-liners Garret Everson and Barkley Anderson. Andy Kolaczek is most likely with the Calgary Stampeders on their practice roster, but that has yet to be confirmed.

In keeping with past experience, the team is looking towards local talent for the future. Names to look for in bright shining lights? Fasano gave us a hint of who to look for in years to come.

Jonathan Lang from Lord Beaverbrook High School will be playing fullback. Dave McDermott, also at fullback, and receiver Brendan Mahoney are from Cochrane. Neil Briar from Winston Churchill will be playing running back. New defensive backs are Cory Kien from Oil Fields high in Turner Valley and Justin Mauro from Bishop Carroll.

The season opens Sept. 4 at home as the Dinos beat the crap out of the University of Alberta Golden Bears. The second game is Sept. 11 in Winnipeg against the University of Manitoba Bisons. McMahon Stadium will also host the Alumni Game on Aug. 28.