Bombers to build around local talent
Atlantic Football League: Host Moncton Friday night at Chapman
By Robert Touchie
Published in the Daily Gleaner on Thursday October 15, 2009
Appeared on Page B2
The UNB Fredericton Red Bombers' maiden voyage in the Atlantic Football
League three weeks ago came with plenty of excitement and fireworks, but in the
end, did not end with the landing they had hoped for.
The Bombers came away on the short end of a 16-14 loss to the UNBSJ
Seawolves but their coaches and players hope to change the flight plan when
they welcome the Moncton Raiders Friday night at Chapman Field. Kickoff time is
The teams enter the game with matching 0-1 records, both having suffered
losses at the hands of the Seawolves. But co-coach Mike DeMello thinks that not
much can be read into the standings at this early juncture of the season.
"It's really hard to say that anyone is standing out in the league
after just two weeks of play, but the scores we've seen so far would lead one
to believe that the league will have parity," said DeMello, referring to
the Seawolves' win over UNB and their 28-23 win over Moncton.
"We've made a few changes to our O-Line since our last game and we hope
it will help us run the ball better. But really, at this stage we know almost
nothing about the Moncton team. We've been too busy working on our own
DeMello is an advocate of the old school offensive mentality: 'five yards
and a cloud of dust' and thinks that although he has an able quarterback, there
needs to be a better balance between the run and the pass.
"You don't win many tough playoff football games, in the cold, without
a solid run game and a good defence," said DeMello.
"Brandon Cornford is a really talented quarterback and he played well
in the first game, but we need to help him out with a better ground game and
hope that Tyler Doak and our defence continue to perform well."
Beyond Cornford and Doak, DeMello didn't feel he had seen enough of any of
his players in a game situation to single out anyone individually, but knows
what kind of player he is looking for to return UNB football to gridiron glory
- and where he'll find them.
"Cornford (Leo Hayes High) and Doak (OHS) are local talents," said
DeMello. "We realize that for this program to be successful one need only
look at the talent that has come out of the Capital Area the last decade to see
that CIS stars are found right here in our backyard."
DeMello listed names of local players who have excelled and starred at the
CIS level, including Dave Knott and Jamie Edwards, who are part of the Bombers'
coaching staff, and the likes of of Dave Skillen, Dan McCullough, and the three
Thomas brothers, Josh, Billy and now Jake.
But for DeMello, one player in particular stands out: Oromocto product Billy
Wilson, who played NCAA Division 1 at Syracuse before injuries curtailed his
"He had it all"¦size, heart, brains, speed, toughness, real
coachable," said DeMello. "That's what we want..guys with the head
and the heart That's what makes a great football player. We know we have a lot
of them here in the Capital Area. We always have and we always will."
"I look at this team now and I see that fire in some of the guys"¦Cornford,
Doak, Hubbard - great character guys who love to play. It helps us with the
chemistry on our team to have those guys, and with a short season we'll need to
come together quick and that type of player gets us there quickly."
Doak, says DeMello, is a force.
"Tyler's a guy who is very physical and tough, but also very
intelligent and with great character," said DeMello. "He's
aggressive, intuitive and has a great attitude, and I love his swagger on the
field. He plays tough, plays with attitude and we really depend on him to lead
Doak, a 21-year-old second year Arts student who transferred from MtA after
redshirting his first year for the Mounties, is a guy according to DeMello
whose skill and attitude personify what the team is looking for and the driving
reason why the team was put together - a local kid wanting to play after high
"The MtA experience was great, I learned a lot, but this thing we have
going on here at UNB, it's amazing"¦.the crowd that first game, I don't
think I have ever experienced anything like that in football in my life, it
really was incredible," said Doak, a five-foot-10 inch, 235 pound
"With time we'll become a CIS program, and it is just a great
opportunity for all of us. I'll be a Bomber as long as I am eligible to be
here, I am totally loving it.
"Our coaching staff is amazing, our front seven kills and I really
think we will win this league this year and set the tone for UNB football for
years to come."
How about Moncton this Friday?
"The first game was the first game," said Doak. "(There were)
a lot of kinks and Saint John was together longer," said Doak. "We
have the skill on this team to rip this league apart and we're just starting to
get together as a Brotherhood"¦and that is where it all begins.
"We don't know much about Moncton, but from what I have seen of them on
film, they have a big O-Line but they are not overly aggressive and they're a
little slow off the ball. Their defence is good but I think that with the
chemistry between Cornford and (Andrew) Hubbard, we can overcome that."
DeMello is optimistic but cautious.
"It'll take a quarter or more for both teams to get their legs under
them," he said.
"But I'm looking forward to this game and the season, because we've got
guys on this team who make it fun to get together; great characters and they're
local guys. It's that local talent we're banking on to build this program into
a viable varsity sport on campus."