AKO rebuild looks to have solid structure

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Updated: August 26, 2016
AKO NEW YEAR

Article Credit to Bob Duff, Windsor Star

Subtract 18 starters, mix in a rule change that eliminated even more players from the roster and what is the end result?

In the case of the three-time defending Ontario Football Conference champion Windsor AKO Fratmen, not even a blip on the radar.

AKO began the season without missing a beat, rolling to a 35-0 win over the GTA Grizzlies on Sunday.

The Fratmen will get a better measure of where they are at in terms of contending status in their home opener Saturday, 4 p.m. at Lajeunesse, as they play host to the Ottawa Sooners, the same team they beat on the same field for the OFC crown last season.

In addition to the usual graduating class, a drop in the OFC age limit this season from 24 to 23 eliminated even more players from eligibility, leaving some gaping holes to fill.

When calculating Windsor’s losses, the Fratmen were left without all four wide receivers, all three linebackers, four defensive backs, two defensive tackles, a running back and two offensive linemen.

“You can look at it negatively but I never do,” Fratmen head coach Mike LaChance said. “I always look at it as glass half full.

“Negatively we lost all those guys. Positively, we’ve got guys like Tyler Storie and Darren Quesnel leading the defence. On offence we’ve got our starting quarterback (Austin Lumley) who’s won three championships back and three of the five offensive linemen, which is a great start, and you’ve got (running back) Cody McCann, who might be our best all-around player.

“When you have those kind of resources, even though you lose a lot, you still have a good amount back that you can base everything around.”

Knowing they’d be left with numerous holes to fill, AKO began installing their playbook early via a spring mini camp and an exhibition game with Geneva College, an NCAA Division III team from Beaver Falls, Pa.

Meanwhile, the veterans are impressing upon the youngsters the tradition of excellence that’s been established by the Fratmen and that they must strive to continue.

“There’s a lot of guys who’ve got to step up,” Storie said. “They’ve just got to bring their stuff.

“With the vets we have, there should be no problem filling in those spots.”

LaChance is confident that his team won’t miss a beat.

“We have enough talent back and we had some new guys come in here, so we still expect to win,” LaChance said. “It might not be the same way. We might not be as dominant as we were but who knows?

“We’ll see.”

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