For the first time in a long time, SFU football has some stability, at least in the coaching department. Head coach Kelly Bates has returned for a second season in charge, and is looking to avoid last year’s winless campaign. Perhaps the only silver lining one could take from last year’s record is the fact that in five of the nine games the Clan played, they were either leading or tied at halftime.
According to Bates, turning those halftime ties and leads into wins is “a process that happens both on and off the field. On the field, we’ve got to control the measurements of the game that help you have success. Ball control, taking care of the ball, time of possession on offence, no stupid penalties. [. . .] On defence, you need to take away balls, you need to stop drives, you need to not extend drives with bad penalties.
“Those are the things that come with attention to detail. And I do believe we will get better at that. But at the same time off the field, you need to put in place a recruiting class that allows you to build your team, and we’re not quite there yet.
Bates further explained that “We are a very young team. And we’re going to pay the price right now in terms of mistakes and being young and not having that experience. But it’s going to pay off down the road.”
The Clan brought a large 36-player recruiting class this season. Miles Richardson was one of those players, a transfer from Division I school Eastern Washington — Richardson will be the team’s starting quarterback, replacing Ryan Stanford, who has graduated.
“To me, he shows the characteristics I want in a quarterback,” said Bates. “First and foremost, he’s a hard worker. He doesn’t take any shortcuts. He knows what he wants from the players around him and he demands it, and there seems to be a respect factor there that helps him get that. He’s got a very young receiving core to work with, for the most part, and he’s given those guys great direction.”
Defensively, SFU will be led by the Herdman twins, Jordan and Justin. Jordan was last season’s GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Justin was no slouch either, recording just over nine tackles a game.
“I’m not expecting greatness, I’m expecting them to be them,” said Bates. “If that happens to be great, that’s outstanding. They’re two tremendous people off the field, and I think that adds to what type of people they are on the field. All I’m expecting from them is 100 percent effort, and I’m going to get that, and the result will yield itself based on that effort.”
The schedule for the Clan will be extremely tough at the start. After playing Idaho State, a Division I program away from home, the Clan is on the road again the following week in Texas, before coming home to play Humboldt State — the conference champion that beat them 57–0 last year.
“[Miles Richardson] is a hard worker [and] he doesn’t take any shortcuts.”
“It is what it is,” Bates said about the schedule. “You accept it, and create a plan, and that’s what our guys will do. One game at a time, one practice at a time.”
One particular game that has Bates excited, and might get students excited as well, is the homecoming game on October 1. It will be at Terry Fox Field, the first time the team will play there since 2013.
“We’re going to have some very interesting marketing ploys to what we do this year,” explained Bates. “We’re going to go ahead and copy the CFL ‘kick for a million’ and have a ‘kick for tuition.’ And we’ll do that multiple times at every game, so we’ll do it up here, and we’ll do it at Swangard. I think it’s a great way to engage students, the community, and great way to put some people in the seats.”
SFU plays their first home game September 17 at 6 p.m. at Swangard Stadium.
Last season: 7th
Preseason prediction: 5th