By Bradley Collins
Charlottetown, P.E.I. - The Holland College Hurricanes football team kicks off against the UNB-Fredericton red bombers this Saturday at 12 noon at MacAdam Field, UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place in the season opener for the Atlantic Football League.
Head Coach Ross Young and his coaching staff are very excited about the 2017 Hurricanes and the expectations from fans for their team.
“It’s exciting. It is going to be a beautiful day. Our players are very anxious to show their supporters what the team can do,” he said.
Young and his staff know the team is in for a tough fight. The Red Bombers are a hard running team with deep receiver threats.
“They will want to take a shot at us early, as last time we met, we prevailed in a very close semifinal game last season. The Red Bomber team is well coached and are talented and big. We respect what they can bring to the battle.”
Last year, the team struggled from the start of season to find its core. They lost a quarterback in training camp and came out of Week One with many injuries.
“It took us to Week Three to find our starting quarterback in Thomas McKenzie. We were limping into games with key injuries to our O and D line. So it is natural for our fans to wonder if we have a quarterback this season. Can we get the ball downfield to dependable receivers? Can we run the ball? All good questions that the team hopes to provide the answers for this weekend,” he said.
After last season, the team had to rebuild. It makes recruiting a challenge and an essential part of the game, given that most Holland College programs are two years in length, whereas the other AFL teams are associated with universities, which have players for four years on average.
“We have developed a great network of coaches, former team mates, and acquaintances who are now coaches and educators in high schools across the country. We have built on our relationship with them. They like the programs Holland College can provide to student athletes, and have been invaluable to our recruiting efforts.”
The Hurricanes will be led this year by veterans Brandon Wilson, Duncan Hill, JR Young and Torino Curtis and are joined by rookies Seth Vezeau, AJ Fields and Tristen Hull to help tighten up the Defensive unit. They are a big athletic defensive line with speed and a mobile secondary unit.
On the offensive side of the ball, they have a large, deep well-coached O line with depth at quarterback; backfield and receivers. Look for Brady Crowe QB to get the start with second year Andre Goulbourne at running back. Joining the backfield this season are Dom Harris, Fernando Fuller, and Rodrigo Montes de Oca.
Veterans Thomas McKenzie and Allister Nicholson will lead the receiving core, with rookies Cole Brydges and Adam Shambemiradam bringing some speed and excitement to the unit. The coaching staff are very excited to see the new players, who make up the majority of the Hurricanes Football team this season, in action.