Typically, April would be time for Lacombe Composite High School Rams Football to hit the field for spring camp in advance of their 2020 season.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has changed the regular plan but LCHS athletes are still prepping for their high school football careers from home.
Cody Melnychuk, LCHS running back who notched three touch-downs in an upset semifinal game last year, said he is looking forward to all the young athletes coming through the system.
We are really going to miss some of our key players from last year but I think we will come together as a team. We will work on the problems we had last year and we are really going to have our offence step up. Our defence is stellar but we are going to work on our offensive plays,” he said
One of those up-and-comers, Wide Receiver Gabe Hiebert, said they can build off of having a younger squad last year.
“I think next year will be pretty good. I like our group and I have always been with this group throughout my whole minor football career. We are really excited for this year,” he said.
Both Melnychuk and Heibert are hoping to build off of long-time Lacombe Minor Football careers, with both of them saying it goes all the way back to atom.
“My mom and dad got me into it. Since the begining, it has been what I like doing and I have kept going with it,” he said.
Heibert added, “I started playing for the Chargers when I was nine. I watched the CFL on TV and my dad and I watched games on Saturdays. I thought it was really exciting and ever since it has been a big passion of mine.”
Even though the Rams can’t practice together during the quarantine, they are doing their best from home.
Melnychuk said, “I have been trying to stay in shape the best I can through this quarantine. I have been running and trying to keep my upper body strength. I have also been going through plays to keep my mind sharp.”
Heibert said he intends to hit the field as soon as they get the go-ahead from the powers that be.
“I have been talking to a bunch of my buddies and we are planning once this thing is done to head out to the field to work on our skills. At home, I have been watching a lot of football rewinds and some of our plays on game film,” he said.
He added he expects big things from the Rams after having a similar Lacombe Raiders team two years ago.
“It was same guys we are going to have now. We won every game except for two and went to the provincial championship,” he said.
Melnychuk added, “I am hoping the virus will pass quickly so we can have spring season. As soon as we get the okay to get back on the field, we are going to play like their is no tomorrow.”
Rams Coach Brian Ross players like Melnychuk and Hiebert love the game the way he remembers loving the game.
“I can really relate to them and I feel bad for them now.
He added things are different but is pleased to see his guys work through the quarantine.
“We don’t need to be in a weight room to build muscle. I think because this is such a time of change, the old coaches like me are going to be the ones finding the change most difficult,” he said.
Ross said without spring camp, he intends to send out playbooks early.
“We want to get guys mentally ready and then in the fall, when I assume we will get going, we will start a week earlier than we normally do,” he said.
Although early, Ross feels the Rams will stack up well the Red Deer city teams. He said the biggest challenge will be replacing Grade 12 Quarterback Mitch Simmons.
“That is always the biggest fill but I have a couple young guys,” he said.