#CFCOVFL PREVIEW: “We haven’t played what I consider the strongest teams yet”

Past the midway point of their Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) season, the varsity Kingston Grenadiers are quietly making their way towards the top of the standings.

The Grenadiers are closely behind the perennial powerhouse Ottawa Myers Riders in the Wettges Conference with a  4-1 record as they have won four straight games.

Grenadiers Head Coach Mark Magee doesn’t worry about records at this point in the season.  Additionally, he has continually stressed players to be concerned more with their weekly game performance.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything at this point,” said Magee.  “You have to look at who you’ve played, how you’ve won, how you’ve played.”

“I always tell the guys, it’s not about what other teams do. It’s about what you do and how you play. If you prepare properly and get yourself ready to go, hopefully you’ll have some success.”

Despite the recent success, there have been bumps in the road, mainly inexperience. With only 10 returning players, some of them had a hard time adjusting to the league’s calibre of play.

“It’s taken a lot of them a little while to get used to the pace and the level of play,” he added. “It’s basically an adjustment to the speed of the game because it’s definitely faster than high school and most of the football the kids have played.”

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On top of that, Magee says the team has had some issues with penalties, particularly in a recent home victory against the York-Simcoe Bucs in Week 4 in which there were multiple unnecessary roughness infractions.

“The issue with penalties, and the kids know because we talked about it came from kind of selfish play,” said Magee.  “It wasn’t team play.”

“They weren’t UR’s [uneccessary roughness] where you’re on the fringe of tackling a guy. The majority of penalties we received in that game were blatant UR’s and they were totally selfish penalties.”

Despite this, Magee thinks that is behind the Grenadiers now.

“We talked about it all week,” added Magee.  “We had good dialogue and it’s done, it’s history.”

“We finished the game against Markham on the weekend and we had some UR’s but those were borderline calls. They’re just judgement calls by the referee. I didn’t think they were penalties from where I was standing as a coach, but you know what, if they’re going to protect the quarterback that’s fine. They just need to make sure they protect him on both sides of the ball.”

The Grenadiers have bested their opponents with a strong, multi-faceted running game complemented by a middling passing game and sturdy defensive play.

However, Magee says the team’s true test lies ahead and down the regular season stretch.

“The bottom line is so far we’re 4-1,” he said.  “We haven’t played what I consider the strongest teams yet.”

“The strongest are going to be Myers and the two Toronto teams.  “They’re going to be real big challenges. We know Myers is always at the top, and they seem to be running on all eight cylinders right now, so that’s going to be a very tough game for us. But overall all you can do in any situation is just prepare yourself through practice and go out and play the best game you can.”

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