2014 CIS Football Team Preview: Concordia Stingers

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Source: Catherine Grace, Concordia SportsInfo

2013 regular season record: 0-8
2013 regular season standings: 6th place in theRSEQ
2013 playoff record: None

The last couple of football seasons were challenging for theConcordia Stingers, but now it’s time to move on. To that endMickey Donovan has taken over the head coaching responsibilitiesand has definitely brought a high-energy approach to running theteam.

It will be a new look and a new vibe for the 2014 Stingers.

There’s several new co-ordinators in Patrick Donovan(defence), Matt Connell (offence) and Marc Calixte (special teams)who bring a wealth of experience and very positive approaches.There’s a lot of fresh faces in the lineup as well.Approximately 130 players came through camp, and the coaching staffelected to keep 40 veterans and about 60 newcomers.

A lot of the talk going into camp surrounded Donovan’srecruiting of American players, especially out of Texas. Thoseplayers have not disappointed. In fact a few will be starters rightaway.

On offence, the Stingers will be exceptionally young with justsix starters back and there will likely be a more balanced attackthan in the past few years.

“The receiving corps is pretty special,” saidDonovan. “But were young at every position exceptreceiver.”

Defensively, the Stingers’ have nine starters back,including halfback Kris Robertson who returns after a year’sabsence. He was exceptional in the 25-18 preseason victory over theQueen’s Gaels on Aug. 24. The entire defensive backfield wasimpressive in that game.

“Kris is a great leader,” Donovan said.“It’s exciting to be coaching him instead of againsthim. There’s great leadership on that side of the ball. Thevets are doing a great job at guiding the young players.”

As usual special teams, especially the kicking game with KeeganTreloar, will be stellar. Robertson, the two-time all-Canadianreturn specialist, will have a big impact.

Overall, it’s too soon to make any predictions.

“We’re very young and very athletic, but we’restill trying to find ourselves,” Donovan said. “Thecharacter is great. The family is sticking together and the team isgelling. We’re aiming high. We will have high expectationsevery game.”

Head Coach Mickey Donovan:

– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2014):1
– Career regular season record with team: 0-0
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffsonly): 0-0
– Preseason victory over the Queen’s Gaels 25-18.

OFFENCE

Key veterans:

OT Roman Grozman – 3rd year, Tel-Aviv, Israel –Grozman has been the Stingers’ most talented offensivelineman since the day he first stepped on the field in 2012.He’s powerful, aggressive and finishes every block. He checksin at 6’4” and 310 lbs. His impressive footballrésumé includes playing for the World Team at theunder-20 championship in Austin, Texas, in February of 2011. He isconsidered a top prospect for the 2016 CFL draft.

SB Shayne Stinson – 4th year, Brossard, Que. –Stinson is definitely a player to watch out for this season. In2013 he caught 32 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown. He’sa smart route runner and breaks tackles after the catch. He bringsa lot of experience and leadership to the team. In the preseasongame versus the Queen’s Gaels, he was the Stingers’ topreceiver with three receptions for 56 yards. He participated in the2014 East-West Bowl last May.

SB Jamal Henry – 4th year, St. Constant, Que. –There are high expectations for Henry this year. In 2013, he caught23 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns. Henry is one of thekey leaders on the team and is instrumental in helping to guide theyounger players. He participated in the 2014 East-West Bowl lastMay and was the leading receiver for the East with four catches for40 yards and a touchdown.

Key recruits:

QB Colin Sequeira – Montreal (St. Paul’s PrepSchool) – Sequeira has been impressive in his first trainingcamp. Donovan has praise for his strong arm and decision-making.He’s also pleased with how well he is adjusting to theuniversity level of play. In the preseason game, he completed eightof 11 passes for 94 yards and did not throw an interception. Healso scored a touchdown on a plunge from one-yard out. In Quebec,he was a standout at Selwyn House School where he once threw for527 yards, eight touchdowns and three two-point conversions in asingle game in 2011.

OG Kenny Johnson – Fort Worth, Texas (Missouri ValleyCollege) – Several new linemen have joined the Stingers thisseason, but it’s Johnson who has earned the highest praisefrom Donovan. Johnson has impressed the coach with hisintelligence, athleticism and team-first attitude. He’s alsocatching on to the Canadian game quickly. The all-district linemanfrom the Texas high school ranks is 6’2” and 280pounds.

RB Gunner Tatum – Crane, Texas (Crane High School) –Tatum, who checks in at six feet, 215 pounds, carried the ball 226times for 2165 yards and 18 touchdowns in his last season with theGolden Cranes. He also caught six passes for 100 yards and two TDs.He is a first team all-state running back and the districtdefensive MVP. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash. He carried the ball 15times for 98 yards in the preseason win versus Queen’s.

Key losses:

QB Reid Quest – Regina – Last season he used hisfinal year of eligibility. His poise, maturity and experience willbe missed. During his three seasons with the Stingers, he threw for5,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.

SB Kris Bastien – St. Lambert, Que. – Bastien, atwo-time Quebec all-star, was drafted in the third round, 26thoverall, by the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He caught 37passes for 592 yards and six touchdowns in eight games in 2013.

SB Mike Harrington – LaSalle, Que. – There’sno doubt the Stingers will miss Harrington’s hard-nosed styleof play. He could be counted on to pick up the tough yards acrossthe middle and in traffic. Last season, he caught 38 passes for 435yards. This season, he joined the Concordia coaching staff andworks with the receivers.

DEFENCE

Key returning players:

HB Kris Robertson – 5th-year Pickering, Ont. – Afterfour seasons as a defensive back and return specialist Robertsonwas selected in the second round of the 2013 CFL draft by theWinnipeg Blue Bombers. His dreams were cut short by an injury thatsidelined him all of the last season. The two-time all-Canadianreturner is back with the Stingers for his fifth and final season.He was in fine form in the preseason game versus Queen’s. Hetook back an interception 42 yards for a major.

DT Sam Narkaj – 2nd year, Toronto – Narkaj arrivedin August of 2013 and was relatively unknown to the coaching staff.He earned a spot on the dress roster and had a solid rookiecampaign. This year he has made people take notice with hisstrength (32 reps on bench press) and intensity on the field. Hehas been a force in training camp, and Donovan is looking forwardto watching him make his mark in the conference this season.

S Mike Charland – 3rd year, Gatineau, Que. –Charland is already attracting a lot of interest from the CFLscouts, even though his draft year is 2016. His scores for physicaltesting are off the charts, he has exceptional leadership skillsand he delivers. He was the leading tackler in the RSEQ in 2013with 46 solos and 13 assists for 52.5 tackles. He also snaggedthree interceptions.

Key recruits:

CB Connor O’Brien, Westmount, Que. (transfer from St.Lawrence University) – O’Brien played football atSelwyn House School, St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. andSt. Lawrence in Canton, N.Y. With the latter, he suited up in 2012and 2013. He recorded 28 solo tackles, 17 assists, eight breakupsand two interceptions over two seasons. Last season he earnedLiberty League second team all-conference honors. Donovan says heis a very physical player and is very knowledgeable about thegame.

LB Jeremy Pelletier, Châteauguay, Que. (Vanier College)– Coach Donovan has been very impressed withPelletier’s work at training camp and his football ability.At 6,2”, 220 lbs., he brings good size to the position. Healso has good speed and has been clocked at 4.74 in the 40.

DT Andre McKissack – Crandall, Texas (Crandall HighSchool) – McKissack is probably the most talked about recruitthe Stingers have ever brought in. He has not disappointed intraining camp. Donovan says his young star is strong, explosive andwill demand double-teams this season. The 18-year-old has a maximumbench press of 450 pounds and a maximum squat of 590 pounds. Heruns a 5.0 40-yard dash.

Key losses:

LB Alex Lemire, Otterburn Park, Que. – Lemire has been amainstay with the linebacking corps for four seasons. He’sbeen a quiet leader and extremely dependable. He earned respect forhis exceptional work ethic, his intelligence on and off the fieldand his team attitude. He always made time to help the youngerplayers.

LB Max Caron, Kingston, Ont. – How do you replace aPresidents’ Trophy winner who is now in the CFL? A linebackerwho rewrote the RSEQ and Concordia record books? Big shoes to fillfor the Stingers.

DT Quinn Smith, Scarborough, Ont. – Again how do youreplace a lineman who was a first round CFL draft pick? A veryathletic big man, he was dominating in the trenches. Hisversatility, strength and quickness will hard to replace.

SPECIALTEAMS

Key returning players:

K Keegan Treloar – 4th year, Brandon, Man. – Goinginto his draft year, Treloar will be doing everything he can toprove he is worthy of a shot in the CFL. Last year he connected on11 of 14 field goals, including successful attempts from 48 and 50yards in the same game (Sept. 28 vs. McGill). His average was 51.2yards on 29 kickoffs.

P Clark Green – 2nd year, Chatham, Ont. (Chatham-KentSecondary School) – Green was a member of Team Ontario West in 2011and he earned Golden Horseshoe all-star honors in 2011 and 2012. Hechecks in at six foot three, 175 pounds. In his rookie campaign heaveraged 35.3 yards on 69 punts.

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