BUFFALO, N.Y.- It was the perfect season; undefeated, 11-0 and a Monsignor Martin championship. Canisius couldn’t’t have scripted a better 2012 season. Last year set the bar high for Head Coach Rich Robbins’s squad and this year is no different.
“Expectations are high, obviously any time you have an 11-0 season. Honestly, we just talked in our team meeting that we had this morning this is 2013; we haven’t accomplished anything yet this season. We had a great year last year, we’ve got some D-I high profile kids but I think the hype is a little crazy right now,” said Coach Robbins. “We still have a lot left to prove before we get into that kind of national or northeastern conversation but we’re flattered. We understand the expectations are high and we’ve been preparing all summer with that in mind.”
Canisius has 14 starters returning for this season. But that doesn’t mean any spot is guaranteed. “I think the nice thing here is with all the good players we have there’s a ton of competition. There’s been a lot of good competition this summer obviously we’re starting camp today so the competition will pick up. Right now I think most of our guys are really focused on winning their starting job, winning their place on the field for this team. That’s where our focus is right now, our focus is on camp and getting better every day, getting in shape and preparing for our first game of the season,” Coach Robbins explained.
Some might say Canisius has a target on its back after the success from last year. And some might feel the pressure of the expectations set. But running back Qadree Ollison explains a team motto to help them stay motivated. “One thing our coach has been preaching to us every week and every day is out work, out hit, out discipline. Those are kind of our expectations if we out work, out hit and our discipline everybody we will be very successful,” Ollison pointed out.
Some players brush off the pressure that might be building up because of these expectations. Senior middle linebacker, Mike Sharpe, explains why he doesn’t think it’s difficult to repeat last year. “I don’t think it’s very hard because we’re a team and we’re a brotherhood. We love each other and I think that’s what is most important. We keep our expectations up and we don’t fall victim to the pressure,” said Sharpe.
Then there are those who didn’t share in the success of last season. As Coach Robbins pointed out, Canisius has a number of transfers for 2013. “It’s been great because our kids are great, they’ve really accepted them into the family. It’s always hard when you get transfers in, we’re a tight family here and we’re a close knit group but we’re also a program that’s starting to attract some people. People want to be here so you’re always going to have transfers and it’s my job to kind of get everybody to mesh together and realize we’re all about the same thing. Obviously getting the Wheatley’s; TJ’s an outstanding player, tight end, defensive end. He’s going to be a force for us. His younger brother Terius is only a sophomore is a fantastic athlete. Brad Zaffram, All Western New York last year as a sophomore, he’s a tough, hardnosed kid, great hitter,” Coach Robbins explained.
Senior cornerback and safety, Keon Garrett, can already feel the impact of these transfers. He points out how they’ll improve the team this season. “They’re very influential people because they’re already talented. When they join the team we already know that we’re going to be a good group but then when they joined we’re a pretty talented group,” said Garrett.
One position that’s still to be determined right now is the man under center. Coach Robbins has a few candidates up for the starting quarterback job.
“Our incumbent, Tyler Mascio, is not here anymore. Zach Liberatore is a kid who’s been here since he was a freshman. He’s been in the system, played freshman on JV football for us at quarterback. Last year he started at linebacker for us; he didn’t get a ton of reps at quarterback but he was practicing every day. Jakob Loucks is the other boy’s name coming down from Cornwall, Canada. He was actually at Niagara Academy last year so he’s here, he’s had the playbook, he’s been working with us this summer a little bit. We think he’s going to compete for the job a little bit. Zach’s a little ahead right now being here all summer but it’s nice to have two options there,” Coach Robbins said.
Canisius opens up the 2013 season on September 6th on the road against McQuaid at 7:30pm.