Coming out of its annual spring camp, the Muskie football team believes it has found a few good men.
But rookie head coach Chad Canfield still would like to some more grace the field come the fall.
At the end of Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, Canfield stressed to his players that he will keep up the recruiting drive in order to boost the roster to a healthy level.
However, he also made clear the onus wasn’t just on him and the coaching staff, but on the players as well to bring out friends to give the sport a try.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the numbers that we wanted to,” Canfield acknowledged.
“And that’ll be one of my goals—to get enough kids so that they can have one position on offence, or one position on defence, not running both ways,” he pledged.
“Unfortunately, we’re not there yet but that’ll be the goal for the fall.”
Attendance at the week-long spring camp held steady at about 25 players per session, and Canfield expects to see a number of the same faces out this fall.
“Something must be working because we’re getting a lot more people that are committed to coming out in the fall, so that’s good,” he reasoned.
Canfield added there will be reinforcements coming in the form of some Grade 8 players who were out of town during the spring camp.
He said he knows of six players who plan to come out for the team this fall, and anticipates the actual number will be higher.
“I think that it’ll probably be more than six. I’m saying that we just know of six, so that’s going to be a bonus for us, as well,” he enthused.
“Hopefully, they’ll bring some friends out because it is a great way to make friends, especially when they’re coming in in Grade 9.”
Canfield also hopes to see some established Muskie athletes grace the gridiron to help ease the numbers crunch. He made clear that anyone who comes out to a practice or two can decide that football isn’t the sport for them, but that still involves giving it a fair shot in the first place.
“Anybody who calls themselves an athlete in this high school should be out here,” he challenged. “I really can’t think of any reason for not trying something.
“We had a couple guys who tried it out and didn’t like it, and that’s fine.”
Canfield was proud of the players who did attend camp, and was encouraged by a number of the first-timers who came out and made an impression.
“Most of the kids played really hard, and it was really good to see some of the younger guys, especially, make some plays out there,” he lauded.
A couple of rookies who particularly stood out included Harley Mainville and Tyler Fontana, both of whom Canfield expects to be versatile pieces on the team.
“Harley Mainville can be an excellent football player,” lauded Canfield. “He’s got good size, he’s a good athlete and we just need some more time with him.
“I think he can play a lot of different positions.
“Tyler Fontana was another one that as the week went on, he really started to come on a little bit and the light started a little bit. . .He made an interception in the game, so that was good,” continued Canfield.
“[He’s] another versatile guy that we can put in at fullback or linebacker, or even play a bit of [defensive back],” he concluded.
Canfield expects that linemen will be an asset to his team, bolstered by a trio of returning players and a newcomer who projects to play at a high level as well.
“A couple of our linemen just look excellent—Cody Hunsperger, Paul Vivian and Evan Morrisseau are all looking really great,” he enthused. “[Rookie Chris Bobczynski] is going to be excellent.
“Having all those guys together in a line is going to be one of our strengths.”
The area Canfield noticed the most improvement was in tackling—one of the most crucial parts of the game for players to have down to a science, both to be successful and to avoid injury.
“[The biggest improvement was] definitely in the tackling,” he stressed. “The first day, we came out and we struggled with it quite a bit. And by the second day, it was like we were coaching a different team.
“They were really hitting hard, [with] proper form,” he enthused. “It was really good to see something like that.”
While the number of players could stand to be boosted, Canfield was thrilled with the size of the coaching staff that has helped out with the squad thus far. At any given time, eight to 10 coaches were out on the field helping out the team.
“We’ve got a great set of coaches out here,” he praised. “The new coaches are a huge help, having enough coaches out here to give the kids one-on-one coaching.
“A guy can still run the drill while another guy’s working with a player one-on-one.”
Canfield also noted that even though Saturday’s scheduled scrimmage with Dryden was scuttled, he’s still planning to take on the Eagles before the WHSFL season kicks off in September.
“They have a scrimmage before the regular season starts in August, so we’re going to maybe see if we can jump in there,” he remarked.
And although spring camp is over, the players’ work is just beginning. Each athlete has been given an off-season workout plan, prepared by assistant coach and personal trainer Dennis Ogilvie, to follow rigorously over the summer.
“The more they participate in that, the better they’ll be,” Canfield stressed.
“They’re so young that they can put on muscle pretty easily, so we’re hoping that they get into that and will be ready to go in the fall.”
Meanwhile, Canfield is encouraging athletes who might be interested in joining the team to contact him as soon as possible, and not wait for the fall, in order to start with the workouts so they are as prepared as possible for the start of the season.
“I’m always open for phone calls,” he said. “Then we can get them on the right track for the fall.”
To further cultivate interest and develop skills, Muskie coaches also are planning to hold a flag football game every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the high school.
“That’ll be for guys on the team and for guys interested in playing in the fall,” Canfield said. “We’ll come out and run a few short drills just to keep our skills up, and then play an hour-or-so flag football game.
“It’s good because we have enough coaches that we’ll have somebody out here all the time,” he noted.