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Raiders players getting ready for new season

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 06, 2014 11:28 am

Bennett Thomson ran through a speed drill during a practice session for the Airdrie Raiders football team on Jan. 30 at Genesis Place.
Bennett Thomson ran through a speed drill during a practice session for the Airdrie Raiders football team on Jan. 30 at Genesis Place.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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With snowy and cold conditions outside, football may be the farthest thing from many minds at this time of year.

But that’s exactly what the members of the Airdrie Raiders midget football program are thinking about as they are getting back into game shape for the 2014 Calgary and Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA) season.

“It’s nice to be training and getting back into game shape, especially since our team is looking promising this year,” said 16-year-old running back Jordan Baldwin. “It’s going to be awesome this year for all of us, and I think we have a really good chance of winning the league.”

The midget Raiders, which consists of high school students in Grade 9, 10 and 11, took home the Division 2 title in the league last season with a convincing 41-12 win over the Calgary Falcons on May 30, 2013.

“Our defensive players, our running game, and our passing attack are all very strong, and we should work well together as a unit this year,” said Bennett Thomson, 16, said.

“After last season, the guys are all ready to go and we should have a strong turnout for players,” Raiders Head Coach Steve Kemp said. “We recruit from Drumheller, Airdrie, Olds, Chestermere, Strathmore and everywhere in between, which will give us a strong group of 60 guys.”

Although the team’s first exhibition game isn’t scheduled until March 27 at Shouldice Park in Calgary, the Raiders will be getting ready for the new season with training sessions every Friday and Sunday, starting on Feb. 7.

Prior to that, the team held a winter skills camp on Feb. 1 and 2, in addition to having speed training sessions throughout the month of February.

“The speed drills helped us out a lot, especially with training camp starting soon after,” Thomson said. “It’s also big for us as we can use the things that we learned to our advantage during the season.”

“For me as a receiver, I will be able to run my routes better and be able to be in the right place to catch the ball, and that should hopefully allow me to score more touchdowns.”

The speed training sessions were run by Defensive Backs Coach Willie Williams, who is one of four new coaches that will be joining the Raiders sideline this season.

Quarterback Coach Ian Couture, Running Back Coach Ray Zambeke, and Defensive Line Coach Matt Ready are the other new coaches joining the midget Raiders.

“I’m very excited, as I’m sure the rest of the new coaches are, to be coming in and helping these guys out,” Williams said.

“Football is such a huge part of my life, and for me to help and give back to the younger guys is always a pleasure.”

“We will have 15 coaches on our team this year, so it’s going to be a bit crowded at the sideline at times,” Kemp joked. “However, we will have two coaches for each position on our team, so I don’t think that anyone who has a question about how to do a certain thing on the field won’t have it unanswered.”


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