2014 CIS Football Team Preview: Alberta Golden Bears

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Source: Matt Gutsch, Alberta SportsInfo

2013 regular season record: 0-8
2013 regular season standings: 6th in CanadaWest
2013 playoff record: N/A
2013 playoff finish: N/A

The rebuild of the University of Alberta Golden Bears footballprogram enters its second season in 2014, and while the firstseason yielded no victories on the field, the program is clearlytrending in the right direction.

The Golden Bears finished with the10th most productive offence in CIS football last year. Veteranquarterback Ryan Schwartz had the ninth best passing percentage inCIS last year, while rookie receiver Tylor Henry finished third inthe nation in receptions and sixth in receiving yards. The 2014team has been buoyed by the additions of several provincial teamand national team players, especially along the offensive line andin the defensive secondary. The Bears offence should take anotherstep forward in 2014, while the defence will definitely improve,making the Evergreen and Gold a team that could surprise thisseason.

Quote from head coach:

“We have an excellent young nucleus on our team,”said Chris Morris. “The last two years have seen some of thetop recruits in the country commit to the University of Alberta andthese players will serve as a great foundation moving forward.Combine this fact with the great veteran leadership we have at thelinebacker and quarterback position and we have a great formula forsuccess moving forward.”

Head Coach: Chris Morris

– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2014):2
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2014): 2
– Career regular season record with team: 0-8
– Career regular season record in CIS: 0-8
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffsonly): 0-8
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only):0-8

OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players: Ryan Schwartz (QB),Curtis Dell (QB), David Beard (OL), Tylor Henry (WR), Ed Ilnicki(RB), Aundrey Webster (R), Ryley Richardson (WR)

Fifth-year quarterback Ryan Schwartz returns to lead the GoldenBears offence, as does fellow fifth-year QB Curtis Dell, along withveteran receiver Ryley Richardson and sophomores Tylor Henry (WR),Aundrey Webster (TB), Tak Landy (R) and running back Ed Ilnicki.The group combined to produce the 10th most productive (yards)offence in CIS last season, while Henry was the Canada West’sleading receiver.

Key recruits or transfers: Jimmy Ralph (WR), JoeMcQuay (OL), Justin Lawrence (OL), Levon Hawreliak (RB)

Key recruits include Jimmy Ralph (WR), Mark Korte (OL), JoeMcQuay (OL), Justin Lawrence (OL), Ben Kopczynski (QB), ZachCreighton (OL), TJ Sloboda (OL), Donivan Grannum (RB/SB), Eric Mahe(OL), and Kyle Beaton (FB). Ralph joins the Bears afterred-shirting one season with Weber State in the NCAA, whileLawrence and McQuay helped Canada to a silver medal performance atthe recent U-19 Football World Championship in Kuwait. Also joiningthe team this year is former CJFL leading rusher and CJFLAll-Canadian Levon Hawreliak.

Key losses: Jess Valleau (SB), Smith Wright(FB)

The Bears will definitely miss the elements that Jess Valleauand Smith Wright brought to the offence. Valleau was adouble-threat for Alberta, hauling in passes, and ripping off kickreturns, while Wright, who was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos in2013, had been the team’s starting fullback for severalseasons.

DEFENCE

Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players: Tyler Greenslade (LB),Connor Ralph (LB), Greg Severin (DL), Mitchell Koch (DB), SeanDavis (LB)

Fifth-year linebacker Tyler Greenslade, fresh off a trainingcamp with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, returns to captain theAlberta defence. He’s joined by former Team World starterConnor Ralph, a fourth-year linebacker, as well as third-yeardefensive lineman Greg Severin and third-year DB Mitchell Koch, whoplayed for Team West at the 2014 CIS East-West Bowl.

Key recruits or transfers: Josh Normandeau(DB), Marshal Klein (DL), Jordan Rae (DB), Colton Cardinal (DL),Samson Abbott (DL).

Jordan Rae and Josh Normandeau highlight the defensive recruits,with having played on Canada’s U-18 team, while Normandeaurepresented Alberta in 2013 Canada Cup. Marshal Klein and SamsonAbbott both join the U of A from St Paul’s in Winnipeg. They bothcome to Edmonton after winning back-to-back provincial titles, andwere two of the most sought after recruits in the nation.

Key losses: Steven Giang (DL)

Steven Giang had been a three-year starter for the Golden Bears,on the defensive line, and he played in the 2013 CIS East-WestBowl.

SPECIALTEAMS

Key returning players: Stephen Fabian (P/K),Tylor Henry (WR)

Kicker Stephen Fabian returns for his third season with theEvergreen and Gold, handling both the placekicking and puntingduties, while sophomore wide receiver Tylor Henry looks to continueburning up the gridiron with punt and kick returns. He led CanadaWest in all-purpose yards in 2013, and recorded the longestsingle-season kick return in 2013, which was also a GoldenBears’ record, by taking a kick-off 106 yards for atouchdown.

Key losses: Jess Valleau (SB)

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