New-look Rams ready to roll as season kicks off
Change is coming for the Langley Rams.
"Basically a brand new football team," said Jeff Alamolhoda, who is back as head coach of the Rams after serving as an assistant last season because of work commitments.
Last year, the junior football squad went 7-3 and appeared in a third straight Cullen Cup, the B.C. Junior Football Conference's championship game, where the Rams lost 47-38 to the Vancouver Island Raiders.
But while the team may have had success on the field, things could have been better off of it, admitted Alamolhoda.
"There was conflict amongst the team, in amongst the players, and we just weren't able to get on the same page," he said.
"I think one of the biggest things we have been able to accomplish already is coming together as a team and as a family, helping each other out and being positive on the field and not really having that negativity around us."
The Rams return about 35 to 40 players out of 70 from last year's squad.
And the coach said the team needs to quickly identify and establish their identity.
"I can tell you that we are going to try our hardest to become a very sound defence, smash-mouth oriented type team," Alamolhoda said.
Leading the way will be Anthony Daley and Spencer Lang along the offensive line, with Nathan Lund expected to shoulder a bigger load as running back.
As a rookie, Lund was impressive in 2013, leading the conference with an average of 10.6 yards per carry. He finished with 699 yards and seven touchdowns on 66 carries while splitting the back-field duties.
Both Daley and Lund also spent time with the B.C. Lions at the team's rookie camp in May, and Daley remains on the Lions' practice roster as a territorial exempt junior.
The defence will be led by defensive lineman Brandon Klein and Alex Agnoletto, as well as linebacker Jacob Patko.
Dylan Tucker, a back-up last season, has the inside track on the Rams' starting quarterback job.
"He is a perfectionist, he wants to be perfect on every single play," Alamolhoda said.
"And he holds himself accountable for everything (and the team) respects him for that."
The coach added that the quarterback has big-play ability.
The Rams kick off the 2014 campaign against the Raiders on July 26 at 4 p.m. at McLeod Athletic Park. The two teams have met in the past three championship finals with Langley winning in 2012, which interrupted the Raiders' string of championship titles at six.
With a young team, Alamolhoda said the focus is on getting better each time they step on the field.
"We are not really focusing on the bigger picture, but just at the moment on hand and being able to get better each and every play and each and every rep," he said.
"It is a process … we will not be the same team we are in week 10 as we are in week one.
"It is all about the process and not getting frustrated or overwhelmed."
"We are really excited about this group," he added.
"We feel like we have some big success on the way."