Rebels coach puts premium on attitude, team, work ethic

John Cardilicchia could barely squeeze a conversation between cellphone calls this week. It was planes, ferries, automobiles, and calls to the coach for football players en route to the Victoria Rebels training camp this weekend.

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For Cardilicchia, the ringing only added to the excitement.

“I’m really eager to get to training camp and start formalizing the attitude, team, and work ethic,” said Cardilicchia, who’ll have his chance today, Day 1 of camp at Edward Milne Community School in Sooke.

A former head coach of the team, Cardllicchia took some time off before returning last year as an assistant under Paul Orazietti. When Orazietti accepted a position at the University of British Columbia in February, Cardilicchia was brought back to the helm, right in the thick of things.

“I took over the team late,” he said. “I hit the ground running. I worked my butt off, and recruiting couldn’t have gone any better. We got a fantastic number of the kids we wanted.”

Many of the recruits were sold on the team at the Rebels spring camp in April, including quarterback Nick Cobb of Winnipeg. The 18-year-old red-shirted at the University of Manitoba last year, but decided to study by correspondence, and play for the Rebels, instead of returning to the Bisons.

“There’s a strong sense of community here,” Cobb said. “That’s tough to find.”

Team president Roger Wade said the team wants to continue its goals of community involvement and player development, both of which were success stories last year.

In ’09, the Rebels’ first season at new City Centre Park stadium, they led the Canadian Junior Football League in attendance with an average of more than 1,400 fans a game. On the national gridiron, a dozen former Rebels played pro in the Canadian Football Conference, and several other were with university teams.

As far as the winning goes, the Rebels finished

6-4 in the B.C. Football Conference last year, in an injury-riddled season that ended with a 52-46 loss to the South Surrey Rams. This year, the Rams, who’ve amalgamated with the Vancouver Trojans, should be tough, along with the defending national champion Vancouver Island Raiders, and always competitive Okanagan Sun. The Rebels, expected to have more depth, along with talent, play an exhibition game against the Raiders on July 17 in Nanaimo, and begin the season the following week in Chilliwack. Their first home game is July 31, against Kamloops, and the coach guaranteed a fun time. “We’ll give the fans their money’s worth,” Cardilicchia said.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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