Guelph Gryphons set to kick off OUA football season

GUELPH – Training camp is over and the Guelph Gryphons are set to start their 2019 OUA football campaign Sunday afternoon with a home game against the McMaster Marauders.

“The nine days (of on-field training camp activities) have been intense, work-filled and nonstop but it’s been all worth it,” said first-year Gryphon head coach Ryan Sheahan. “This is the fun part that’s about to begin.”

The Gryphs know they’ll have a challenge with McMaster in their home opener at Alumni Stadium.

“We’re all looking forward to a great test, a great battle against a team that’s had a lot of success in recent years, even more so with coach (Stefan) Ptaszek at the helm,” Sheahan said. “I remember the ’11, ’12, ’14 seasons before he went to the CFL and those teams were always well-coached and excellent in all three phases of the game and that’s exactly what we’re expecting – a very good team. Training camp was long and hard and all worth it in that we get to go and suit up and test our mettle on Sunday.”

The Gryphs will remember the 2012 and ’14 seasons, too. They lost to the Marauders at Hamilton in the Yates Cup final both seasons.

This year’s version of the Gryphons has had a fairly steep learning curve with a coaching staff that includes a new head coach, offensive coordinator (Mark Surya), defensive coordinator (Dennis McPhee) and special teams coordinator (Donnavan Carter) among others.

“As we continue to grow, them learning our style and what type of offence and the pace of play and the pace at which we practise, I hope that spectators feel we practise fast,” Sheahan said. “We’re continuing to learn who does what the best and we’re always a work in progress.”

While the Gryphs will be looking to win every time out, they know playing well in October and November is the biggest key to success.

“I’m looking forward to the first test, but I’ve learned over recent years that you have to play your best football at the end,” Sheahan said. “I’m not saying that I’m willing to give up anything early in the year because I expect us to go and challenge and fight for every inch, but as long as we get it rolling at the right time, that’s what’s most important.”

But a team has to get enough points during the season to qualify for the playoffs.

“I think that early in the season it’s the team that can eliminate the most mistakes that’s going to come out on top,” Sheahan said. “We feel confident and ready and I can just feel the vibe that everybody’s excited to play.”

While Sheahan is a bit of an unknown quantity in the OUA in terms of coaching, Gryphon opponents might try to get an early glimpse of what to expect when they play Guelph by checking out video from the Calgary Dinos of the past three or four seasons when Sheahan was their assistant head coach and offensive coordinator.

“I guess I am who I am,” he said. “What I’ve done is I’ve tried to learn as much about offence in the past 20 years at the places I’ve been, the places I’ve played, coached, quarterbacked, etc. Hopefully you can’t just be a one-trick pony where you’re just an air-it-out pass game like Calgary. You have to be able to play to your strong suits. Personnel dictates everything. We feel we’ve got enough in that allows everybody to shine offensively on Sunday, but I guess we’ll find out.”

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


  • Guelph Sports Journal