NACI Tigers football hits the field



Head Coach Dave Clark looks on as the players hit the tackling sled during practice on Tuesday, Aug. 25. 

By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

While it’s still a bit too early to say just how good or how bad the NACI Tigers football team could be this season, the coaching staff is very much looking forward to finding out. The team is heading into the 2015 Rural Manitoba Football League as a bit of a mystery, having lost nine players from last year’s squad, which made it all the way to the championship game. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 25, the team held its first practice of the pre-season. Coach Dave Clark said the next few weeks should be very interesting, as the coaching staff sees what they have to work with.

“We have about 38 players out here. I believe last year we had only 24 students try out for the team, so this is very encouraging,” said Clark. “We lost a fair bit of experience as nine players from last year’s team have graduated. There are only four grade 12 students out here right now, so there are lots of Grade 11 and 10 students here. While that bodes well for the next few years, as the younger guys gain more experience, this season could see some growing pains. Though the veteran presence isn’t out there like it was last season, that doesn’t mean the talent level isn’t very good. Already, myself and the other coaches are seeing some very skilled players out here that could step up quickly.”

Clark said that for the next week, the coaching staff will evaluate the players skill levels.

“The first two practices are simply assessing the skill set that everyone is at. Also seeing who came into the season in shape and who needs a bit more time to get into game shape. Next week, we’ll begin running them through some plays. Breaking them off into offence and defence. Showing them some of our defensive schemes and trying to play kids where we think they’ll have a chance to excel. We have a good pool of talent here, it’s our job [as coaches] to put them in a situation where they can show us what they got. We have some good size out here. There are also a couple very quick players. Some impressive speed. Early on, we’re pretty happy with what we have to work with,” noted Clark

The most important position battle will be at quarterback, as the team searches for a replacement for Brenden Cowan, who has moved on to the University of Manitoba. Clark said though there is not much experience at that position right now, there is talent.

“It’s tough to replace Brenden Cowan at the QB position, but Dylan Oshanyk, who played behind Brenden last year is back. He gained some experience last season, but really didn’t get many chances out there to show what he had. Dylan has still come a long way from last year. While he does have the confidence of the coaching staff, the starting job is still up for grabs. There are a couple young guys that have good arms and we’ll give them the chance with the ball and see what they can do.”

Rural Manitoba Football League is a nine-man football league that’s comprised of seven teams from high schools in the rural Manitoba area. The season starts at the beginning of the school year and finishes with the RMFL Challenge Cup in November.