By DYLAN DACOSTA
The Twin Cities Predators football team is recruiting new members for their next assault on the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) title, and they have targeted Conestoga students to help them achieve their goal.
Head coach Tom Arnott and head of recruitment Jim Macarthur were at the college for four days to try and pique interest and recruit Conestoga students to become part of the Predators’ upcoming season, which starts in July.
The Predators endured a difficult season last year – but Macarthur believes they can “quickly turn it around and become a championship level team.”
“Our end result was terrible, our record was officially 0 and 8 but we weren’t as bad as the record makes us sound,” said Macarthur. “We were extremely competitive in every game and were even leading significantly in some.”
He attributed the team’s poor results to the challenges of entering second year; the team brought in a new head coach and started working on a new philosophy and system.
The team’s defence was the main reason they were able to keep their games so tight – they led the entire country-wide 20-team league in takeaways and interceptions.
Offensively though, they lacked a running game. They will also be recruiting potential quarterbacks since their current QB is in his last year of eligibility (players can only play until they are 23 years old).
This year, like last, the team will be looking to carry roughly 55-65 players on their roster – around 10-15 of last year’s roster were Conestoga College students.
“When students come for information we discuss the kind of systems we want to run and our philosophies and attitudes towards the game itself,” said Macarthur. “They can also talk to me to get an understanding of the business side of the program and what the financial costs are.”
Macarthur believes that the biggest challenge for the Predators recruiting efforts is actually getting the word out so more people can be aware of the team and the opportunities available to potential players and fans.
“I wish our stadium was closer to the college so we could draw some fans from there as well,” he said. “But the college is a perfect fit for us not only from a recruiting perspective but from a fan base; the students could really adopt this team as being their team.”
Despite that, the Predators haven’t attempted to recruit at any other school in their three-year existence – they haven’t felt the need to look any farther than Conestoga’s large pool of students.
“We usually do (get a lot of interest), as potential players walk by they’ll come over and talk to us” he said. “But this isn’t entry level football – we want guys who really want to play for us, we don’t want guys who will come out once a week and goof around because it’s a serious level of football.”
Joining the Predators would provide players with great opportunities – the coaching staff is made up almost entirely of ex-CFL players and the team is a farm club of the Toronto Argonauts so players will have a chance to catch the eye of scouts and move higher up the football chain.
The team will be back at Conestoga for an evaluation camp at the recreation centre on March 24 to evaluate the players who have shown a serious interest in joining the Predators.
Anybody still interested in joining can go to www.predatorsfootball.ca and fill in the player profile application under the “Become a Pred” tab.
By DYLAN DACOSTA