The Colts football team was the first Swift Current Comp. High School team to hit the field last week when they opened training camp. The Colts handed out their equipment on Thursday and then held practices on Friday and Saturday in preparation of their first game on September 7.
“We are pretty excited about numbers,” said head coach Derek Murdoch during practice on Saturday. “We are back up over 40 and there are still a couple of guys that we know are coming that haven’t been here due to different commitments due to family vacations or work or things like that.”
Murdoch said that they returned a high number of the players that attended the spring camp.
“We had most of the guys come back. We jumped right into yesterday with our first practice and we were scrimmaging our first day, which we don’t get to do very often.”
Grade 12 Grady Lamontagne returns as the starting quarterback for the Colts in his fourth and final season with the team. He threw for 906 yards in six regular season games in 2012 and scored five touchdowns.
“He has had an opportunity now for a couple of years. He is just an unbelievably smart football player, so we are pretty happy to have him running the offense,” said Murdoch.
“I think we are going to be a real young team. We are going to be fast and exciting. We won’t be too big, won’t be running over a lot of guys. But I think we have a lot of speed and we will be exciting to watch,” said Lamontagne.
“We are going to be young, we don’t have a tonne of grade 12’s... Even though they are young they are guys that most of them have played some football. Most of the younger guys are coming from the Minor Football,” added Murdoch.
The veteran quarterback will looking to provide leadership for a young team.
“I am just trying to be a positive leader, set a good example for the younger guys, and make sure everyone knows what they have to do to win.”
Lamontagne helped organize preseason workouts for the team.
“We tried to just get together before the season to work on some stuff, passing stuff. It’s easy because you don’t need equipment for any of that. We just wanted to get the timing right. The chemistry with all the new guys, it is important just to get out there and run some routes, throw some balls, and just work on all that chemistry,” he explained.
Not only will the Colts be young, but they are also not very big.
“That is always the hardest thing to find is size. You can’t do much about it and you can’t coach it. The size that we do have is young, it’s guys predominantly in grade 10 that are our biggest guys,” said Murdoch.
“I think that what we lack in size, we make up for with a pretty aggressive group of kids, which is something we haven’t necessarily been known as is the most aggressive team. We are hopefully going to fly around the ball and make up for some of that lack of size,” he added.
“Offensively we feel okay with the guys that we have in some of those skill spots. It is just going to be a matter of working out some of the kinks and some of the guys are just going to have to battle through the inexperience,” said Murdoch.
Grade 11 Marcus Mayall will be one of the primary targets for Lamontagne after averaging 22.2 yards per catch last season.
“Marcus Mayall is going to be a big time receiver for us. We lost his older brother last year and he was a big piece. But Marcus is one of those guys that is going to catch the ball if he can get to it,” said Murdoch.
Grade 11 Jackson Goodfellow will be one of the running backs this season. He averaged 9.2 yards per carry in limited duty last season.
“He got a couple of chances last year and did well. We are looking forward to him getting a chance to carry the ball and be the guy,” explained Murdoch. “Austin LaRochelle is a guy that we weren’t expecting to get. He is a guy that has some skill and can run through guys too.”
The Colts will open the season on September 7 when they visit the Vanier Vikings in Moose Jaw at Gutheridge Field.
“We are really excited. I think a lot of the guys have been waiting for this all summer. This is the highlight of a lot of guys’ years. Being the last year for me and I know for a couple other grade 12’s, I know we are really excited to get this going. We want to have a good last year with these guys,” said Lamontagne.
Murdoch said the team still had a lot of work to do to prepare for the season opener.
“You can be aggressive in practice and fly around the football field with the guys that you know and feel comfortable with, but it is going to be a different story when we play Vanier on the seventh.
“I think that by that time they will tired of hitting each and they will be ready to go. We will just do our best to simulate game speed and hopefully it converts when it comes down to it,” said Murdoch.
The Colts finished with two wins and four losses in the regular season in 2012. They were eliminated in the quarter-final with a 23-16 loss to Weyburn.
The Moose Jaw League will be comprised of seven teams again this season and Murdoch pointed to two schools as favorites, including the defending champions from Moose Jaw AE Peacock.
“I think that Yorkton and Peacock will probably be the big two. Yorkton didn’t lose a lot of guys from that big team they had last year that lost to Peacock in the final. I think Peacock probably thought last year was their year to kind of build up so I think they are going to be really strong again. They have such a strong tradition there and good coaches. I think outside of those two, the other four should be competitive.”