Eric Stranz certainly knows that this season will mark the first OUA football season for the Gryphons that they won’t have a Ferraro kicking since 2011.
Daniel Ferraro, now Stranz’s kicking coach with the Gryphons, was the team’s kicker/punter from 2011 to 2014. Daniel’s brother Gabe, now with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, spent his first season in Guelph with his brother before becoming the No. 1 kicker/punter on the team in 2015. He used up his fifth and final year of eligibility in 2018.
“Those are big shoes to fill, for sure,” Stranz said. “Now that both of them have been through this program, their parents are still here helping out, it’s definitely a big (role) to fill.”
Stranz did suit up for a pair of games last season and had one punt for 29 yards. While his game action wasn’t much, he felt just being on the sidelines during the two league games helped.
“It was good for confidence coming in this year knowing that I have had some playing time, knowing that I’m going to get a lot more playing time and I’m ready,” he said.
That time also allowed Stranz to see the difference between high school football and the sport at the university level.
“The pace. The pace for sure,” he said. “Everything is ramped up. Everyone cares more, really. Everyone here wants to win. People want to have fun, but winning is definitely at the top.”
And, of course, the players are a little bigger in university football.
“They’re way bigger,” he said. “I was one of the bigger guys on my (high school) team.”
After going through training camp, Stranz feels he’s ready to take over from the kicking Ferraros.
“I feel ready,” he said. “I feel ready for sure. These past few practices have been really good. The team’s looking really good and I think special teams are going to be awesome this year. It’s been a great camp. It was great to learn a new system.”
Stranz also knows what he has to do to make his time with the Gryphons a success.
“I’ve got to work on consistency, for sure,” the accounting student said. “That’s what everyone, all kickers, need to work on – consistency, getting the right spot at the right time, the right height, the right rotation on the ball.”
To prepare for the season opener, Stranz also figured he just had to rest, relax and focus on his playbook.
“I just have to focus on what I have to do and focus on my goal,” he said.
Kickers have a playbook?
“It’s not very much,” he replied.