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Football Stingers primed for next step

by Archives September 2, 2008

The Concordia Stingers football team should finally have a realistic chance of winning the Dunsmore Cup, the provincial championship.
After two straight losses to the University of Laval, Concordia earned its reputation as proverbial second-best.
While coach Gerry McGrath’s past squads were always solid, they often missed key components to earn a championship.
Last season, McGrath decided to recruit quarterback Liam Mahoney and offensive lineman Anthony Barrette, two recruits that immediately paid off – Mahoney went on to earn CIS rookie of the year and Barrette also started as a freshman over several veterans.
Despite McGrath’s recruiting success, the rookies were still only rookies. The freshmen suffered from inconsistent play, most notably dropping a 34-13 decision to the University of Sherbrooke after defeating a much tougher University of Montreal 9-6.
This year however, the rookies have matured.
Mahoney and Barrette are reprising their starting role for a sophomore season; all star receiver Cory Watson will have the experienced Tony Testa for aid; fellow all-start linebacker Cory Greenwood will have great support with Darnell Danglade returning, as well as rookie Ricky Zieba looking to make a name for himself. And the defensive linemen are “a lot more athletic than last year” according to McGrath.
The only true gap will be at defensive back. With Sammy Okpro drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos, it will be interesting to see who steps into the leadership position.
“Our defensive backs are inexperienced, but they’re physical,” said McGrath. “[Their success] will depend on how quickly they learn and how they keep their composure.”
Training camp ran without flaring egos, a big surprise considering the amount of raw talent. Usually a team with many impact players will have little chemistry, but both players and the coaching staff are entering with optimistic attitudes this year.
“We’re in a really good mood,” said Mahoney. “Compared to last year we’re a lot tighter. We had a couple of guys [last season] who didn’t want to fit in. This time we’re a lot like a family, and everyone knows their roles.”
Expect Concordia’s biggest weapon this year to be the receivers. Mahoney will have multiple threats down field with Watson, Testa and Blake Butler rarely dropping passes.
“We always had the receivers, but with Testa it gives us a lot of flexibility, he’s very fast,” said Watson. “We should be pretty intimidating for defences, we three receivers are over 6’2″.”
The Stingers will face the Bishop’s University Gaiters in their home opener at Concordia Stadium on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. The game will also be televised live on RDS.

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