Football prepares for spring games
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 18:05
It was just a few months ago that the Western Oregon University football team finished out their 2011 season at McArthur Stadium. Now with spring here the team is back on the field and ready to play.
Spring is the time when all college football teams utilize the weather to prepare for the upcoming fall. Western Oregon held their first spring ball game on Friday, April 27, at Central High School.
Western Oregon University Head Football coach Arne Ferguson states that spring ball is about “testing commitment of the team. They lift 3-4 days a week in addition to 5:30 am practices on the turf field. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to stick with that. Working on the turf and the increased condition has been giving the team the advantage of running plays faster since they need less recovery time.”
The team has been working with the Director of Sports Performance Cori Metzgar-Deacon. “We are 10 pounds bigger in muscle in each position,” states Ferguson. “The freshmen are already a season ahead physically which is big in football. We have 94 players and everyone will get playing time during spring ball.”
This coming year the team is looking forward to adding about 35 new players to the roster. “We are hoping that some of the new guys will be able to contribute to the team the first year but we won’t know till they get here. Football is very much a developmental sport. Players will have to get used to the speed then to a new seven-inch playbook. Its not all about the talent but being able to play together as a team,” stated Ferguson.
With the team preparing for the upcoming season that only means that it is time to say goodbye to the graduating seniors including senior offensive linemen number 54 Jason Slowey who was just this weekend drafted as the 199th pick for the San Francisco 49ers.
This upcoming season means new leadership on the team. A few players whom Coach Ferguson suggested that people keep their eyes on are: defensive linemen Gavin Drake, who was 1st team All-Conference and split quarterback Cody VanAppen.
“Goals for this coming season are to make the quarterbacks more productive and replace graduating senior Evan Mozzochi. We also have to replace three of our lineman,” stated Ferguson. “For defense we need to solidify one corner position, which will be very competitive. The run front also needs to become more physical than last year. We expect the run front to dominate the game.”
“We learn week in and week out so that we can win the GNAC,” stated senior safety Bryce Peila. He continues that, “the team is learning more discipline and we are learning from the small think not the big picture.”
Junior center Paul Gutzman stated, “the number one thing is consistency in every game. We need to go one game at a time but keep the GNAC picture in our heads.” Teammate junior left back Devin Wells added “we need to reduce penalty’s and keep composed on the field.”
“Last year we played one of the best team since I have been here and I’ve been here for 25 years,” stated Ferguson. “At half-time against Montana it was 12-0, we just couldn’t recover against Humboldt State the next game.”
This year the team will be ready to take on anything. “With the help of the leadership from the older guys we need to be here and be ready to work and create chemistry on the field among the team. We aren’t taking days off,” stated Peila. Wells continued that, “we all have to buy in and get everything in order. We have to trust the young guys and know that they have our backs.” The next spring game will be held at McArthur Stadium on May 5 at 3:30 with a kids camp before from 1:30 to 2:30.