By Ryan Laverty
Dear friends, we are gathered here today to bid farewell to a very special team. They were taken from us Sun., Nov. 4 in Manitoba. A hard-nosed bunch, the 2001/02 Dinos football team will be remembered most for mounting the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them throughout the year.
"We faced a lot of adversity and I think we overcame it pretty well," said Head Coach Tony Fasano. "But am I happy with our record? No.
"Certainly I am not pleased, but I wouldn’t trade all the knowledge we gained this year for a playoff win."
A season full of high expectations was transformed into an imminent struggle when fifth-year quar-terback Lincoln Blumell suffered a season ending thumb injury eight plays into the first game. Blumell was replaced by red-shirt freshman Brent Hargreaves, whose Canadian Interuniversity Sport experience to that point was non-existent.
"Brent did as good a job as we could expect from him," said Fasano. "He was kind of thrown to the wolves when Lincoln got hurt, but he did a good job adjusting to the situation."
While not the catalyst that is Blumell, Hargreaves gained the respect of his teammates and coaches alike through his ability to elevate the team’s performance. His play was a strong indicator for each of the Dinos’ results throughout the season–when he played well the team played well. When he didn’t, they didn’t. But football has never been an individual sport and obviously one player cannot be fully responsible for either wins or losses. The largest contributing factor to the team’s less than perfect season was the team’s depth. It is a problem rookie Quarterbacks Coach Shawn Olson has been working on since March.
"We have 630 guys on our recruiting list right now," said Defensive Coordinator Dave Johnson. "We have to be heads and shoulders above everyone else in the country right now, because we are at the same level as we were last spring. And that’s all because of Shawn."
Olson realizes that as important as recruitment is, he also has a lot of work to do with the young pivots in the Calgary arsenal.
"I can’t wait to get going on the off-season," said Olson. "I’m kind of a football psycho. For eight months I’m going to have these guys on the track, in the gym, watching tape. Whatever I have to do to get these guys to where they need to be for next season."
Olson’s attitude has been well received by more than just the quarterbacks. His positive outlook and constant hard work seemed to infect the entire team by the end of the season.
"At the start of the season we struggled and weren’t sure of ourselves a lot of the time," explained fourth-year defensive end Joe Swift. "But the last three games or so, we felt like we could stop any offence in the country at any time. It feels really good knowing we’re going to start next year with that kind of confidence in ourselves."
"Our linebackers were studs. They were the heart and soul of the defence," added defensive lineman Luke Ferguson. "The D is going to make some big plays next year."
The Dinos will be resurrected in the late summer of 2002, with almost all their parts intact and then some. Blumell will almost certainly be back in the crimson and gold next season and despite the huge holes left by fifth-year graduates Greg Hoover, Jimmy Hartley, Brad Gillam, and Yousef Traya, the team is already brimming with con-fidence.
"We’re Vanier Cup bound next year," predicted running back Luke Mayer. "8-0 and a Vanier Cup win."