CIS Countdown 2010: York Lions

Our team-by-team previews for the 2010 football season begin today. First up, the York Lions.

In 50 words or less: Rookie coach Warren Craney knows expectations are low for a team which hasn’t made the playoffs contended won a game since 2007. But 2010 may be the year where a foundation is laid for a successful program in the future.

Burning questions

WILL the Lions win a game?

Actually, WILL the Lions contend in a game?

WHO will be York’s starting pivot – incumbent Nick Coutu or incoming rookie LaShane Oldacre?

HOW much will it help to have the CIS all-time leading passer, Michael Faulds, on the sidelines and in the locker room?

2009 recap: (0-8). After a spirited effort in a tight 17-14 loss to Windsor in the season opener, the Lions laid claim to being the official cellar dwellers of the OUA. Ranking last in total offence (209 yards per game) and total defence (559 yards per game), the Lions failed to contend in a single contest the rest of the season.

Departures: OL Matt Davis is the biggest loss. While not an necessarily an impact player, Davis was a solid locker room presence for a team that, according to Craney, contained too many bad role models.

Arrivals: Oldacre, a 6-foot-1 QB from Weston, LB Shane Peru, a McMaster transfer and LB Jeffrey Adubofour.

Keep an eye on: LB Steven Reading, CB Andre Clarke, and OL Boris Radulovic. All three were already standouts for York last season, and with another year of experience under their belts, will be depended on even more heavily this season.

Coach & coordinators: Craney steps in for his first year with the team, after spending 10 years with Concordia as a defensive coordinator and line coach. His success as head coach will likely not be measured in wins and losses this year, but for what kind of measurable progress his team can make compared to seasons prior.

The Lions also signed a new offensive coordinator this offseason, and rumour has it he used to throw a football really good. Oh right, it's Faulds, the celebrated Western Mustangs quarterback with a decorated resume and outstanding reputation, having been a two-time Yates Cup MVP (and he threw for more than 500 yards, playing on one leg, in the one his 'Stangs narrowly lost).

While Faulds’ offensive knowledge and leadership may be beneficial to the Lions, his presence will also provide immeasurable dividends in recruiting players for the future. York also introduced Harry LaFlamme, a former Concordia colleague of Craney’s, as Defensive Co-ordinator this summer.

Off-the-field factors: The team will be playing under the benefit of zero expectations, the perfect place to treat the 8-game schedule as a chance to become better football players in the hopes of contending in the future. Craney says while wins in bunches are unrealistic, the team will be using a number of measurable goals to try and “become better football players and a better football team.”

Stock up or stock down: The Lions have to be trending up, given that you can’t really do much worse than they have the last two seasons.

Schedule (all times ET)

Sun., Aug. 29 at Laval (exhibition), 1 p.m.
Mon., Sept. 6 vs. Guelph, 1 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 11 vs. Ottawa, 1 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 18 at U of T, 1 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 25 at Laurier, 1 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 2 vs. McMaster, 1 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 9 at Windsor, 1 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 16 vs. Western, 1 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 23. At Queen’s, 1 p.m.
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