Football Dinos pumped for season

CAM MAXWELL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

If Superman's the Man of Steel, the University of Calgary Dinos football squad is the sporting equivalent.

After his first season as head coach, Blake Nill knew his players needed to get stronger -- much stronger -- to compete and win against the likes of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

So Nill instituted a 13-week program that had his charges hitting the weight room at 6 a.m., and he was there with them every morning since January as they pumped iron.

"It was one of the main problems last year," said Nill, who opens the team's fall training camp tomorrow.

"Not only did it take away our ability to compete against the bigger teams, but it made us susceptible to injuries."

In fact the club, which went 2-6 in 2006, lost 15 starters to season-ending injuries.

There's plenty of talent on the club, but, as Nill says, those skilled players still need to develop and grow.

"Calgary has the talent to win, but you've got to develop it," said Nill, a two-time Vanier Cup winner as head coach at St. Mary's.

"You've got to put men on the field if you want to compete against Laval and St. Mary's. That's not a secret, and it's something we needed to address right away."

As far as the players are concerned, they've pretty much embraced the new philosophy.

"We've just finished 20 straight weeks at (National Sport Development Centre), and we're coming into camp in way better shape than any of us have ever been," said veteran centre Dave Maltman.

"It was really tough because there wasn't too much of an opportunity for a break. We were constantly going.

"Then every week we'd change stuff up, so you're constantly sore.

"It's going to keep going that way, and I'm a little disappointed that this is my last year."

Additionally, Nill did great recruiting off-season, getting pretty much every quality local player he went after, and some of those freshmen will play, including highly touted wide receivers Anthony Parker and Matt Little.

Several players who missed last season after transferring to the U of C can play this year, including three former St. Mary's players -- linebacker Andrea Bonaventure, defensive lineman Deji Oduwale and nose tackle Tim Burris.

Calgary plays an exhibition tilt against Alberta next Saturday in Red Deer then begins the season Aug. 31 against the host Simon Fraser Clan.


Videos

Photos