The University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team has started its 2014 season.
On Aug. 22 the squad began an intensive training camp that holds two practices a day, running until Aug. 28. The players will then participate in the annual Green & White Scrimmage to close out training camp on Aug. 29.
Just under 100 players — ranging from returning veterans to new recruits and walk-ons — are taking part in the camp, trying to crack the roster.
The camp is a great way for the players to showcase their skills to the coaches and put all that hard off-season training to good use to get back into game shape.
One of those players looking to get back into form is starting quarterback Drew Burko.
The fourth year kinesiology student finished third in Canada West last season in passing yards per game. In last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss, Burko threw for an astounding 502 yards and four touchdowns. The passing total was the sixth highest ever in Canadian Interuniversity Sport playoff history.
“I’m just looking forward to playing again,” Burko said. “It’s been a long off-season and it kind of ended on a bitter note last year so everyone I know just wants to get out here and play.”
The Huskies finished last season with a 5–3 record, just good enough for third in the Canada West conference. Their season came to an unfortunate end with the 37–36 loss in the semi-finals to the University of Manitoba Bisons.
There is room for improvement at camp and Burko knows that better than anyone.
“Just learning our offence, there are some new wrinkles with the coaching changes and we want to be ready and executing at our best,” he said.
On offence, the starters will all work on building up their chemistry with one another. Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers all need to be on the same page on every play and training camp allows teams to find that flow.
The Dogs enter the season having lost five starters on both of the offence and defence lines and this camp will be a good time for newcomers to prove themselves to the coaches.
Second year defensive lineman Preston McIntyre is one of many trying to win a starting position.
“I’m focused on performing my best. We lost a lot of senior guys off the D-line and there is a lot of competition,” McIntyre said. I’m just trying to learn the defence the best I can.”
Head coach Brian Towriss has high hopes for the 2014 season.
“We have great potential. With a veteran presence, lots of playmakers on offence and solid lines, we should be a contender in the Canada West,” Towriss said. “We will strive to finish as one of the top two teams in the conference and battle for the Hardy Cup. Our goal is to return to national prominence.”
Following the Green & White Scrimmage, the final cuts will be made and the roster will be finalized for the 2014 campaign. The Huskies first game is scheduled for 7:00 on Friday Sept. 5th at Griffiths Stadium.
Photo: Katherine Fedoroff/Photo Editor