2015 Dinos Training Camp PREVIEW: Offence

CALGARY – With their fall training camp beginning today, powered by Perpetual Energy, today we preview the offence as the 2015 season gets underway for the University of Calgary Dinos football team.

Camp opens Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Edge School, with two-a-days beginning Sunday at McMahon Stadium and running all the way until Wednesday, Aug. 26 when the Dinos will face the Regina Rams in an exhibition contest in Medicine Hat, Alta. Calgary opens the 2015 Canada West season at home on Friday, Sept. 4 when the Dinos host the UBC Thunderbirds for KICKOFF, the capstone to the University of Calgary’s annual orientation week.

Once again in 2015, the Dinos have teamed up with the Calgary Stampeders to provide Dinos season tickets to all Stampeders’ season ticket holders. For further ticket information, please visit www.godinos.com/tickets.

One of the most significant off-season changes for the Dinos was the hiring of Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Ryan Sheahan, who joins the Dinos from Queen’s University. He takes over what was the most potent offence in the nation last season, a squad that set school records for points, touchdowns, and total offence, and features the return of Hec Crighton Trophy winner Andrew Buckley at the quarterback spot.

“One of the things that really attracted me to this position was the personnel in place,” said Sheahan. “I’m thrilled to be part of the staff working under Coach Harris. The playbook has a little bit of everything, and it’s a CFL-style book, but terminology-wise it relates well to the players. We have a stacked receiver corps, a handful of great backs, and the returning Hec Crighton Trophy winner. We can’t wait to get started.”

In total, the offence returns all but two starters, both of which are now in the CFL: offensive lineman Sukh Chungh and receiver Jake Harty. And on special teams, kicker Johnny Mark elected to return for a fifth and final season – much to the delight of Wayne Harris and the rest of the coaching staff.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Key returnees: Sean McEwen, Jordan Filippelli, Darius Ciraco, Braden Schram, Ryan Preuter, Ryan Sceviour

Key losses: Sukh Chungh

Key additions: Coach Dimitri Tsoumpas, Curtis Krahn, Darth Hundal, #CFC100 Brendan Barnes

The backbone of the Dinos’ offence and the key to the run game, the offensive line got a significant boost with the return of centre Sean McEwen, a two-time All-Canadian who was selected third overall in the CFL Draft by the Toronto Argonauts. McEwen elected to return to school to complete his degree and is joined by returning conference all-star Braden Schram along the line. Calgary will need to make up for the loss of Sukh Chungh, who is a full-time CFLer in Winnipeg, but a solid recruiting class along with the addition of former CFL all-star Dimitri Tsoumpas as offensive line coach should shore up this critical position going forward.

Sheahan: “Our centre, Sean McEwen, is almost another coach on the field the way he performs and practices. He is an example for all young football players – he’s not only talented, but he’s the hardest-working guy you’ll ever see. And we have Dimitri Tsoumpas coaching us this year – not only a qualified ex-pro, but a qualified strength guy. Our guys are in great shape this year, and Dimitri has had a big hand in that.”

QUARTERBACK

Key returnees: Andrew Buckley, Jimmy Underdahl

Key losses: Eric Dzwilewski

Key additions: #CFC100 Alex Basilis, Duncan Little

Andrew Buckley’s list of accolades is long, and he returns for a fifth and final season with the Dinos after attending the Calgary Stampeders’ training camp in the off-season and impressing during practice and exhibition game action. The returning Hec Crighton and Russ Jackson winner from 2014 will look to have another MVP season, with Jimmy Underdahl back for his fourth year at the No. 2 spot. On the recruiting front, the Dinos were able to land blue-chip local pivots Alex Basilis from St. Mary’s High School and Duncan Little from George McDougall in Airdrie.

Sheahan: “The opportunity to meet and work with Andrew is something that attracted me to the position. He is one of the brightest young men and a true talent. Behind him, Jimmy is highly capable too, and then you have the young guys and we’re excited to see what Alex and Duncan can bring as well.”

RUNNING BACK

Key returnees: Mercer Timmis, Quentin Chown, Bryce Harper

Key losses: None

Key additions: Jeshrun Antwi, Brenden Hansen

Mercer Timmis, the 2013 Canada West MVP and the Dinos’ all-time rushing touchdowns leader after just three seasons of eligibility, heads into his fourth year looking not only to run roughshod over opposing defences but to impress scouts ahead of next year’s CFL Draft. The Dinos also welcome back Quentin Chown, who was sixth in the conference in rushing last year despite missing the latter part of the season with an injury. The run game looks to once again be a key part of the Calgary offence.

Sheahan: “Mercer is maybe the best running back I have ever seen – but it doesn’t really fall off after him either when you look at Quentin Chown and Bryce Harper, along with some of the younger guys coming in.”

RECEIVERS

Key returnees: Brett Blaszko, Rashaun Simonise, Brendon Thera-Plamondon, Michael Klukas, Mac Sarro

Key losses: Jake Harty

Key additions: #CFC100 Jack McDonald, Elliott Zacher

Brett Blaszko, a first team All-Canadian who led the nation in touchdown catches with 10 last season, highlights a deep and speedy receiving corps for the Dinos. Calgary did lose Jake Harty to the CFL, but 2013 conference rookie of the year Rashaun Simonise along with Brendon Thera-Plamondon and Michael Klukas are back, along with tight end Mac Sarro. Sarro, a veteran presence in the locker room, returns after his second straight CFL camp with the Montreal Alouettes. And among the freshmen, the Dinos will look to the likes of Jack McDonald (South Delta, B.C.) and Elliott Zacher (Ernest Manning HS, Calgary) to earn some playing time.

Sheahan: “What an addition to get Mac Sarro back at tight end after back-to-back training camps with Montreal. You add him to the likes of Blaszko, Simonise, and Thera-Plamondon, and we have a really solid group of receivers – plenty of weapons for our quarterbacks.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Key returnees: Johnny Mark, Tanner Doll, Alec Curtis

Key losses: Jake Harty

Key additions: Daniel Adesegun

Johnny Mark, a three-time All-Canadian and the Dinos’ all-time leading scorer, is just six back of the school’s career field goals record of 71 held by Aaron Ifield (2006-10) as he returns for his final season kicking and punting with the Dinos. With the return of both McEwen and linebacker Tanner Doll, both of Mark’s long-snappers are back this year as well. Also, look for Father Lacombe product Daniel Adesegun to make an impact on the return game.

Coach Harris: “We got both of our long-snappers back with Sean (McEwen) for field goals and Tanner Doll for punts, and that’s a key role we don’t have to worry too much about. And Johnny Mark has been Mr. Consistency for four years now – he has really gotten us to the places we’ve been in the past, and a lot of our success can be attributed to the kicks he has made. I’m really pleased to have him back.”

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