2008: 3-5, fifth in league, won B-side championship.
Head coach: Brian Ross. Assistant coaches: Jason Petrie, Dez Grabo, Fred Knip, Greg Esteves, Steve Kabachin, Riley Quance.
Key Returnees: QB Cole Stewart, RB Brady Olsen, RB Skylar Sergeant, OG James Alden, OG Bryce Muldenhauer, LB Brandt Kolybaba, LB Drew Dennis.
Notable newcomers: QB Stephen Thesen, OL Sheldon Wiebe, OL Shawn Post.
Strengths: The return of Brady Olsen, who led the league in scoring and rushing, and QB Cole Stewart will mean the Rams will have one of the best offensive backfields in the league. The team also lost only two starters from last season.
Concerns: Still a young team, but that’s about it.
Coach’s comments: “Last year was our rebuilding year and by the end we were playing well. Although we still have a lot of Grade 11s and Grade 10s we’ve come together as a team and the work we did last year is beginning to pay off.” — Ross.
West Central Rebels
2008: 0-8, ninth in league.
Head coach: Vance Curtis. Assistant coaches: Fred Heap, Smokey Siltala, Dale Hansen, Rob Unkauf, Andrew Curtis, Scott Butler.
Key Returnees: QB Travis Howes, QB Scott Allen, RB Connor Heap, RB Jordan Hare, OL Haiden Heap, OL Tyler Hodgen, DE Tanner Chahley, MLB Cody Atwater.
Notable newcomers: DE Warren Allen.
Strengths: The return of most of the offensive backfield and offensive line should go a long way in taking the next step in rebuilding process.
Concerns: Still a young team that hasn’t had a lot of time to work together so far.
Coach’s comments: “The hardest thing for the kids is to understand how to win and get the feeling of winning. It used to come easy, but we need to get that back to get back on the winning track.” — Curtis.
2008: 7-1, second in league, lost to Sylvan in A final.
Head coach: Norbert Baharally. Assistant coaches: Guy Neitz, Mark Siemens, Grant McQuay, Brian Marchett, Carl Blundon, Lucas Banack.
Key Returnees: RB Josh Meyer, FB Jared Steinwand. R Myles McKay, QB Dustin Dayman, LB Corey Fisher, LB Cam O’Neill.
Notable newcomers: RB Landon Potter, FB Matthew Hataley, LB Anton Stewart, OL Tyler Volker.
Strengths: One of the best minor programs in the league make sure the team has talent coming in every season, The return of Josh Meyer at RB gives the team one of the league’s top backs .
Concerns: The offensive and defensive lines need to come together.
Coach’s comments: “We’re young, but have some talent in the skilled positions. We should be in the middle of the pack, but also have the potential to be a dark horse.” — Baharally.
Sylvan Lake Lakers
2008: 8-0, first in league, beat Stettler in A final, second in Tier III provincials.
Head coach: Jeremy Braitenback. Assistant coaches: Rick Dunnigan, Colin Klatt, Jas Payne, Dan Johnson, Neil Muz, Rod Johnson.
Key Returnees: QB Howie Gray, RB Justin McCartney, R/RB Ian Graham, OL/DL David Johnstone, C Patrick Gingras, LB Luc Kozak, LB Mitch Lacerf, DL Keith Leblanc, DB Nick Kerekanich.
Notable newcomers: R Rick Hunhold, OL Max Schofield.
Strengths: A solid group of veterans on both sides of the ball who know how to win. Lost some good talent, but skill positions still strong.
Concerns: The only concern may be a lack of experience when it comes to depth.
Coach’s comments: “We don’t have the depth we had last year, but we’re not out of it. Some of the younger guys have come a long way and an advantage for us is the guys expect to have success and know how to win.” — Braitenback.
2008: 1-6-1, tie seventh in league, lost in B semifinals.
Head coach: Brian Taje, who takes over from Don Loov. Assistant coaches: Renn Hill, Colin Loov, Kevin Gibson, Nick Fricke, Rob Cross, Steve Majek, Kyle Heemeryck..
Key Returnees: RB Justin Jorstad, QB Dave Tomkow, DB/LB/RB Klayton Franklin, FB Cody Angus.OL Colton Sameda.
Notable newcomers: QB Leon Cutknife, LB/RB Colton Hutchison.
Strengths: Offensive line looks as solid as it has in years and with Tomkow and Jorstad returning the backfield is solid.
Concerns: Still a young team that needs to learn how to win.
Coach’s comments: “We have a good group of kids returning and we expect to be competitive in every game.” — Taje.
2008: 4-4, fifth in league; beat Lindsay Thurber in B-side semifinal, lost to Lacombe Rams in B final.
Head coach: Kirt Purdy. Assistant coaches: Randy Labrecque, Warren Reed, Adam Belanger.
Key returnees: WR Tylor Henry, WR Joel Winterhalt, QB Josh Millang, LB Adam Kuntz, LB Logan Woods.
Notable newcomers: OL Tim Johansen, DB Jordan McNabb.
Strengths: Solid offensively, with a strong-armed, mobile QB in Millang and two of the league’s top receivers in Henry and Winterhalt.
Concerns: A lack of battle-tested veterans.
Coach’s comments: “We definitely want to finish in the top four and make the (A side) playoffs. And this year the guys are on board to make a run for provincials (at the Tier 2 level).” — Purdy.
Advocate opening week predictions
Central Alberta Football League Advocate Predictions
1. Lacombe Rams . . . young, but talented
2. Sylvan Lakers . . .still very talented
3. Stettler Wildcats . . . always near top
4. Camrose Trojans . . . good offence
5. Lindsay Thurber Raiders . . . look better
6. Notre Dame Cougars . . . always competitive
7. Hunting Hills Lightning . . . could be better than this
8. Wetaskiwin Sabres . . . could move up
9. Rocky West Central Rebels . . . need experience
This Week’s Picks
Lindsay Thurber Raiders at Hunting Hills Lightning, 7 p.m., Great Chief Park — First game always tough, but Raiders do appear to have a bit more experience. They will have to stop Lightning RB Stas McPhail. Pick: Lindsay Thurber.
Sylvan Lake Lakers at Lacombe Rams, 4:30 p.m. — One of the best match ups of the season that could determine first place. The Rams should have one of the best offences in the league, led by RB Brady Olsen, which could be the difference. Pick: Lacombe.
Stettler Wildcats at Rocky Mountain House Rebels, 4:30 p.m. — The ‘Cats have a number of changes from last season, but they’re always competitive while the Rebels are young and just trying to find their footing this season. Pick: Stettler.
Camrose Trojans at Wetaskiwin Sabres, 7:30 p.m. — The Trojans appear to have one of the better offences in the league while the Sabres have yet to show what they may have. Pick: Camrose.
2008 record: 27 right, nine wrong .750
38-year record: 796 right, 239 wrong .769