Cougars looking to contend for title
The Notre Dame Cougars are loaded with veterans and therefore should be a championship contender in the Central Alberta High School Football League this season.
Not so fast, cautions head coach Gino Castellan.
“We have 51 bodies and 25 of them are returning players. Potentially, we could be very good and we expect to be near the top, but you still have to go out and play the games,” Castellan said on Thursday.
“There are always situations where teams look good on paper and then don’t play well. But that’s our job as coaches — to get them ready for these games.”
The Cougars, who open their season tonight against the host Camrose Trojans, are stacked with savvy and skill on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Kieran Pruden is back and will operate behind an offensive line featuring veterans Joe McQuay at centre, guards Brandon Lee, Chad Lakusta and Austin Kulak and tackle Dusty Fowler.
The presence of such a veteran group in the trenches is a major luxury for Castellan.
“I think it’s huge because the blocking schemes don’t change much. These guys have been around for at least a year and they know the blocking schemes, which is half the battle. Once they get familiar with those again and learn a few new wrinkles, I think we’re going to be that much better.”
Pruden should excel this season with the return of receivers Dustin Schaber, Jordan Briault and Brady Podloski.
He’ll also hand off to speedy running back Myles Corsiatto, who last season finished fourth in the league in rushing with 791 yards on 101 carries.
“Pruden and Corsiatto are two of the better players in the league at their positions,” said Castellan.
Spelling Corsiatto in the backfield will be any one or a combination of Schaber, Kieran Mill, Podloski and Luc Laplante. Again, all are veterans.
“I have options,” said Castellan. “Depending on which system I run, I will have different players in the game.”
Grade 10 student Keegan MacDonald will serve as Pruden’s back-up.
“Keegan has looked good in the preseason so far,” said Castellan, who has also been impressed with newcomers Marc Leachman, a defensive lineman, and offensive lineman William Albach, who will be afforded plenty of playing time.
The Cougars also possess experience on defence with the return of linebackers Logan Smith, Laplante and Luke Castellan and corners Darrin Banack and Logan Hughes.