SFU Football: Clan start fourth NCAA season on Saturday in California

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September 5, 2013, Burnaby, BC – In each of the Simon Fraser University football teams first three seasons in the NCAA, the team has improved in the win-loss column and in 2013, the Clan will look to do the same and take a run at a Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in the process.

In 2012, the Clan broke through and proved they were a legitimate threat in the GNAC. While their 5-6 record ranked them fourth in the conference, two of the Clan’s six losses were by a combined seven points, and turning those tough defeats into wins would go a long way to a climb up the conference standings in 2013.

“We’re very pleased with the way training camp went this year,” said Head Coach Dave Johnson. “We pushed the team really hard and they responded well. Our new players are picking up our systems and the team chemistry has been outstanding in the early going.”

Despite constantly making strides forward, SFU has been picked to finish fifth in the GNAC’s pre-season coaches poll.

An impressive group of transfers and new recruits to compliment the returning core of the team will look to prove the pollsters wrong.

“We’ve got some key peices coming back and we brought in some new players that will contribute right away. The players are working really well together and we have one of the best coaching staffs we have ever assembled here who work great together as well,” said Johnson.

Two members of the 2012 Clan moved on to go to Division I schools, as offensive coordinator Jason Beck took a job as the quarterbacks coach at Brigham Young University and starting quarterback Trey Wheeler (Seattle, WA) transferred to the University of San Diego.

Clan Head Coach Dave Johnson could not have found better replacements for the duo, bringing in an offensive coordinator with roots in the pacific northwest as well as experience in Division I and II football in Nick Lucey, and quarterback Ryan Stanford (Phoenix, AZ).

“We had a lot of really good progression over the last month,” said Lucey. “We have some new players joining a group that’s been together for awhile and there is a great vibe in the locker room. Everyone seems to be meshing together well.”

Stanford spent a year at Division I North Dakota State and earned the start in week one over last year’s backup Ryan Blum (Santa Rosa, CA).

“Both Stanford and Blum played well in camp. It was a tight competition but Stanford had a bit of an edge. Blum will definitely contribute though and we’re confident with him as well,” continued Lucey.

Stanford is not the only player with Division I experience to join the Clan this season.

With a hole left in the backfield by Bo Palmer (North Vancouver, BC) who finished his eligibility last season, the Clan brought in Chris Tolbert (Silver Springs, MD), who comes to Simon Fraser from Division I Central Connecticut University.

The offence looks promising with the new additions, combined with returning receivers like Lemar Durant (Coquitlam, BC) and Bobby Pospischil (Coquitlam, BC) as well as sophomore tight end Jamal Kett (Orangeville, ON) and a healthy offensive line to start the season, completed by the return of Brad Erdos (Coaldale, AB) who was injured last season.

Defensively, the Clan are anchored by Casey Chin (Port Moody, BC), who enters his senior season after leading the GNAC in tackles for the last two years.

A new man will be in charge of the defence though, as James Colzie III, a national champion as a player at the Division I level and as a coach at the Division II level has been brought in as defensive coordinator.

“The biggest thing heading into the season is that we’re healthy,” said Colzie III. “Our starters are very good but we do need to work on depth. Our second guys need to play like starters when they get in the game but we’ve been putting them in some situations to push them and they are responding well.”

The defence is full of returning players like defensive linemen Martin Duckhorn (Yukon, NWT) and Kristian Lawrence (Ottawa, ON), cornerback Derek Jones (Edmonton, AB) and safety Chandler Gayton (Seattle, WA) so experience should not be an issue.

Helping out the returning Clan defence will be transfers Eric Frain (Union County, NJ), a defensive back who comes to SFU from Abilene Christian University as well as Joshua Jackai (Oakland, CA), a linebacker who joins the Clan from Laney Community College.

“Obviously we have some great talent returning and the new guys we’ve brought in have fit in really well which is good news for us,” finished Colzie III.

The new and returning members of the Clan get things started on Saturday in Arcata, CA against perennial GNAC powerhouse, the Humboldt State Lumberjacks.

Humboldt State has once again been chose to take the GNAC title and a victory in week one against the Lumberjacks, on the road, would go a long way to proving that SFU is among the best in the conference.

“Humboldt is a huge opponent to open the season. They have a well established program and a great coaching staff. It’s one of our favourite trips of the season. We’re looking forward to the challenge and are optimistic,” finished Johnson.

After their match-up against Humboldt, SFU will have a bye week before traveling to Ellensburg, WA to face the Central Washington Wildcats before finally getting to play at home on Terry Fox Field when they host Western Oregon at 12:30 p.m. on September 28.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2013 Clan Football season and can be ordered for as low as $35.00 by emailing tickets@sfu.ca.

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.