The Westman Wolverines aren’t wasting any time getting down to business this spring.
The Wolverines held registration this week and will open camp on June 4 — a month and a half earlier than last year — in preparation for the start of the Manitoba Major Football League season in August.
Entering their third season in the league, for players ages 18-22, the Wolverines have higher expectations this year and head coach Dave Stantial believes the early start will help them meet those goals.
“I think we were a little bit too rushed with only a month before the first game, (beginning camp) in mid-July,” Stantial said. “So we thought we would go the full month of June, give the first two weeks off in July, then come back in the middle of July and get things rolling hard for our first game in mid-August.”
The Wolverines went 0-8 in their inaugural season and improved to 4-4 last year, tying St. James for the final playoff spot, but missing out on the post-season due to their regular-season loss to the Rods.
With the majority of their 42-man roster returning this season, Stantial believes the Wolverines really have a chance to show their teeth.
“Our veterans are really enthusiastic this year about playing and doing better and making the playoffs and hopefully going deep in the playoffs this year,” he said. “We’ve got a good, strong contingent of 21-year-olds this year that have been with us since our first year. They felt the pain of the 0-8, so they’re just looking for bigger and better things for the next two years.”
Among the veterans the Wolverines will lean on this year are second-year quarterback Seth Hume, who was the team MVP last season, the running back duo of Ace Brown and Shayne Sebree, offensive lineman Brady Dane and standout safety Brendon Brydges.
The Wolverines graduated just three players from last season due to age, while Stantial said a only few of those eligible to return have decided not to come back, which should make for good competition for the few openings the team has this year.
“We should have a really good mix this year,” he said. “The new players that are coming in, I know most of them and … they were quality players in high school.”
The schedule hasn’t been set for this season yet, but the Wolverines will play eight games once again. The league has grown to nine teams this year, with the Interlake Thunder joining the league and the Transcona Nationals back after a one-year leave of absence.
Although registration is over, Stantial said players who weren’t able to make those sessions can still sign up. Interested players can call him at 725-7611.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 19, 2012