Football Gryphs ready to tackle OUA season

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons are ready to open their OUA football campaign.

“We’re very ready,” veteran Gryphon defensive back and Guelph native Nick Parisotto said following a Week 1 practice session. “We worked real hard this whole off-season with captains’ practices leading up to training camp and training camp was really efficient and really effective. I can honestly say we’re very confident going into this game.”

The Gryphs are to open their 2017 campaign Sunday at home against the Ottawa Gee-Gees.

“Coming off of last year, we really wanted to turn around and show everybody that that’s not the team that we are,” Parisotto said. “We’re much better than that. We’ve come to see throughout training camp and our Week 1 prep that we are the team we think we are and we’re ready to come and show it to everybody else.”

The Gryphs had a 3-5 season last year that followed four consecutive 7-1 seasons. Their 2016 season concluded with a 17-11 quarter-final playoff loss to the McMaster Marauders in Hamilton Oct. 29. The Gryphs had won the league championship Yates Cup in 2015.

Parisotto had 24 solo tackles and nine assisted tackles last season, his third with the team, and he recovered a fumble he forced. However, it showed how hampered he was having to wear a cast on his right arm due to an injury as he didn’t have any interceptions. He had seven career interceptions entering the season.

However, he still caught the eye of opposing coaches as he was named a second-team all-star last season. He’d been a first-team all-star in 2015 and a member of the league’s all-rookie team in 2014.

“Playing without the club and I’m injury free right now, knock on wood,” he said. “I’m feeling great and I’m just ready to fly around and keep on making plays.”

Having just completed his fourth training camp with the Gryphs, getting ready for it seemed old hat to Parisotto.

“In terms of off-season training, it’s pretty much the same,” he said. “Our (former) strength and conditioning coach Jordan Foley kept us on the program. We just trust the program and work our butts off every single day in and day out and just go through the process. We know that what we’re doing is going to make us better. Our coaches always put us in the best position to be successful and we just trust the program.”

The Gryphons enter the OUA season opener coming off the Summer Showdown with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and Mount Allison Mounties at Antigonish, N.S., last weekend. The Gryphs went 3-1 in their mini-games with each mini-game the length of one quarter in league play. They outscored their opponents 62-13.

“Last weekend was big for the season in terms of getting the experience for the younger guys,” Parisotto said. “Last year we had a fairly veteran group that graduated. Those (younger) guys weren’t able to get quite as many reps throughout the year so getting that game experience can really build their confidence and it really helped us bond as a team off the field. We got to go have a nice lobster dinner and experience the east coast. It really brought us together.”

Now the Gryphs are ready to tackle their OUA season.

“We’re very ready to play,” Parisotto said. “We trust the game plan and we’re feeling very confident with what we’ve installed. We’re really confident as a group going into this. We have so much depth, so many young players that are ready to step up and make plays and so many great athletes that the confidence is just through the roof at this point.”

Game time Sunday at Alumni Stadium is 1 p.m.