Golden Bears ready to start the season

The University of Alberta Golden Bears football program will take the next step in its rebuilding process under new head coach Chris Morris when they step on to the turf at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg to take on the Manitoba Bisons in the opening game of the 2013 Canada West season.

Since taking over the program in January, Morris has done exhaustive work to rebuild the Bears’ football program from the ground up. With an impressive recruiting class in tow, along with a new coaching staff and new philosophies and attitudes, the program was put through the training camp paces in mid-August, and is now ready to hit the field. And, on Friday, August 30 in Winnipeg, Morris’ Golden Bears will do just that, when they put the off-season learning and additions to use as they take on their first actual competition, the CIS No. 10 ranked Manitoba Bisons.

The Golden Bears’ roster is flush with rookies straight out of high school, as well as additions from the Canadian Junior Football League and returning players. The opening day roster could feature close to 10 new starters, the bulk of which should feature on offence. Fourth-year quarterbacks Ryan Schwartz and Curtis Dell both return, and were neck-in-neck throughout training camp. Both are capable of leading the Golden Bears from behind centre, and both could be featured as the starting signal caller. Veteran receivers Ryley Richardson and Jess Valleau are the only holdovers in the receiving corps, a group that now features rookies Tak Landry and Jordan Perreault as well as Tylor Henry from the CJFL. High school stars Ed Ilnicki and Aundrey Webster create a dynamic backfield, while fifth-year fullback Smith Wright, a recent draft pick of the Edmonton Eskimos, compliments the running game. The offensive line features three new additions in Lincoln Untereiner, Scott Ledieu, and former Bears defensive lineman David Beard, while Reid Bowman and Eric Permann are back from last season.

Alberta’s defence showcases a number of key returning players including: Tyler Greenslade (LB), Greg Severin (DL), Craig Korte (LB), Steven Giang (DL), Tommy Tsoumpas (LB), Brandon Foster (DB), Cayce Kerr (DB), and Mitchell Koch (DB). Troy Weissbach joins Alberta’s defensive line from the CJFL. The front seven should be the strongest unit in the Golden Bears’ make-up and, certainly, the anchor of the defence.

Sophomore Stephen Fabian returns to handle the kicking and punting duties, while rookies Adam Zajdel and Jordan Perreault will man the return game.

Against Manitoba, the No. 10 ranked team in the country, the Bears will have their hands full. The Bisons were a playoff team in 2012 after finishing 4-4 in the regular season, and the Bears will also have to contend with the energy surrounding the game as it will be Manitoba’s first game in their brand new stadium, Investors Group Field.  Manitoba boasts perhaps the best running back in the conference in two-time all-Canadian Anthony Coombs, who is only in his third year, and while they will be starting a new QB this year, they do have proven experience at receiver, including former all-Canadian Nic Demski. Marc Paquette, who served as the back-up QB last season, and Jordan Yantz, the 2012 CJFL Offensive Player of the Year, are the options at pivot for the Bisons, with Yantz having been named the starter earlier this week. The team also returns four starting offensive linemen.

On defence, the Bisons suffered a serious blow with the graduations of linebacker Thomas Hall and all-Canadian DB Teague Sherman, both of whom were absolute difference makers for Manitoba.

The game will be broadcast live on Manitoba radio, while live stats of the game can be found at

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