Both the Gryphon coaching staff and the players eligible to return for the 2019 season have a better idea of what each other is all about following the team’s five-day spring camp.
“I thought it was super positive,” head coach Ryan Sheahan said following the camp-ending scrimmage. “Rome was definitely not built in a day and the fact that all the players I inherited and the new staff I recruited and the new recruits that were here watching, we’re all starting to come together as a family. It’s been new play books, new people, new faces and new attitude and we were able to go out there and move the football, sack the quarterback and make a few plays on both sides of the ball. I was really pleased. Even in these conditions -- I thought I left Calgary’s weather behind, but it followed me here.”
The scrimmage at Alumni Stadium was held on the coolest day of the camp. As is usually the case, some players stood out more than others.
“I’m super thrilled,” Sheahan said. “Some young guys’ stock went up and some veteran guys really saw the young guys push. The first-group O line looked like a first-group O line and the fifth-year quarterback (Theo Landers) looked like a fifth-year quarterback.”
While it was cool for the scrimmage, the Gryphons can figure that if they want to be playing in the playoffs, it’ll be cool at that time of year, too.
“You have to take stock in it,” Sheahan said. “It’s going to be this cold when you try to play to get into the playoffs, so why not get used to it right now.”
The players who were at the practices held during the spring camp got a preview of what the team’s training camp in August will be like.
“I’m sure everybody has their own style on how to run a practice,” Sheahan said. “They had to adapt to our regime and how practice gets run from lining up, to where to stretch, to where skelly takes place, to where red zone takes place. Those are all little processes and we all have to learn from it. I’m looking forward to the warm weather and a few two-a-days and getting ready for August 25th.”
The Gryphons got ready for the spring camp with a little extra classroom work since Sheahan was named the team’s head coach a little over three months ago.
“I think we’ve done a good job of doing a lot of classroom work and taking advantage of the fact that we’ve got a lot of good teachers here on the staff teaching a new system,” he said. “The weather kept us off the turf for a long time so we definitely did not take advantage of the 20 practices that we were alotted, but maybe that worked to our favour that we got to do that much more teaching on film and on the whiteboard. We had a few dress rehearsals before exams and then a five-day spring camp. They looked good and I was proud of them.”
Sheahan was also proud of the coaching staff he assembled and how the newcomers and the holdovers worked together.
“In as much as the roster always takes a little bit of time to gel together, staff new and previous needs to gel together,” he said. “I was happy and proud of the staff. We were organized and we were chewing at each other. You can tell both sides of the ball are very competitive and that’s great. I preach competition around every turn here.”
The outcome of that competition will be the team’s starting unit.
“The best player plays regardless of year,” Sheahan said. “That creates internal competition and that’s a great message for life. If you’re the best at what you do, you should be the person who gets the job or gets the promotion. If you’re not good at what you do, somebody’s going to pass you be who’s out-hustling you. We’ll gel at the right time, but I felt good about this week overall.”
However, there’s still plenty of work to be done during the spring and summer just to maintain conditioning.
“Football has the longest off-season of all sports,” Sheahan said. “We just put in four good months plus the Christmas holidays of grinding in the weight room, on the track and on the indoor turf. It’s just about continuing to get stronger and faster. We preach team speed at every turn so stronger and faster so that we’re in shape ready to compete.”
The team won’t have any official practices before the opening of training camp, but the players and coaches will keep in touch.
“We’re not allowed to have practices with them over the summer,” Sheahan said. “We’ll have some meetings with the guys here in town and send them some electronic messaging of things they need to start to learn and we’ll have Skype meetings. We set a good foundation for what we’re going to attempt to do this fall and hopefully we can capitalize come August.”