By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
The Raymond Comets head into the spring with a new head coach, as Connor Ralph is taking over from Darryl Salmon.
That is not the only change for the Comets, as the team has gone outside its comfort zone to hold a spring game, something out of the ordinary for Raymond.
“We haven’t done a spring game for a number of years,” said Comets assistant coach Matt Baines. “It definitely gives a different feeling at spring camp. It’s important to ensure that the game isn’t distracting from what the ultimate goal of spring camp is and, coach Ralph is doing a great job of keeping everyone focused.”
The spring scrimmage will take place Thursday from 6-8 p.m. against a familiar foe, the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams, in a game that will be played in Raymond.
“The most important thing Friday is to play intense and focused and try not to make mental errors,” said Baines. “The primary goal of the game is to evaluate our players. It will be more important to give players a chance to play and for us to have a good look, than necessarily being ahead on the scoreboard.”
That said, Baines added coaches and players are acutely aware of the rivalry, and the intensity that naturally flows from every Comets-Rams match-up.
“We always want to beat LCI but with this controlled scrimmage, we have a chance to place more focus on accomplishing our goals for spring camp rather than the final score.”
As the last week of camp is set to wrap up, Baines added the spring session has included a little bit of everything.
“The main focus of week one is just getting everyone going through all the basic drills. We’ve got new players that we need to evaluate and positions to fill, where guys graduated last season. We spent time going through our basic offensive and defensive sets and looking at players in certain spots.”
The spring is also about evaluating the talent level on the field, and using that data to help prepare for another important fall season.
“The main goal is to get as many reps in as possible and evaluate our players,” said Baines. “We want to finish spring camp with a solid idea of the athletes that we have, so we can strategize for the upcoming season.”
Spring football, however, is a bit of a balancing act, as coaches and players have to find an ideal time for camp, to ensure maximum participation.
“We always wait until baseball and other spring sports are finished,” said Baines, who added numbers have been solid thus far. “Our numbers have been typical to what we expect – mid-30s.”
Baines added it is nice to see progression in players coming back for another season, as he mentioned spring camp has gone pretty much according to plan.
“I don’t think there have been any big surprises. We had players we knew who would work hard and come back bigger and faster and stronger. So far, it has been what we expected.”
The coach mentioned some of the key returning offensive players for the Comets include Ty Mazutinec at quarterback, Drake Still, Brady Baines and Payson Hill at receiver and Truman Long on offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, some of the key returning defensive players include Brady Baines and Payson Hill at linebacker, Drake Still at Safety and Brody Zaremba as defensive back.