The Regina Rams football team will not have any games this season due to COVID-19, but the competition remains fierce.
Five quarterbacks, Bryce Welter, Sawyer Buettner, Bryden O’Flaherty, Noah Pelletier and Josh Donnelly have their sights set on the starting gig for 2021, but only one will get to run the offense.
“It’s super competitive, we’re doing pass skelly right now,” explains Head Coach Mark McConkey, describing a drill where the quarterbacks run through the playbook, and pass to various recievers. “We’re grading them on every play. So they either get a yes or a no and I report back to their grades.”
The oldest and most veteran overall pivot of the team is Buettner. The 23-year-old from Moose Jaw began his post-secondary football career in the CJFL with the Regina Thunder. He then went on to join the Ottawa Gee-Gees in U-Sports. However, Buettner suffered a concussion while playing with Ottawa, which forced him to evaluate his playing career.
“I wanted to finish playing here in front of my family and at a great school like U of R,” said Buettner, who attended the university while playing with the Thunder. “The injury had something to do with it, but I don’t think it had everything to do with it.”
McConkey was thrilled when the quarterback decided to transfer schools and come home.
“We were trying to recruit Sawyer out of Moose Jaw and he ended up going to the Thunder,” said the Head Coach. “Then when he was leaving the Thunder we tried to get him as well so it’s kind of come full circle with him.”
On the other end of the quarterback spectrum, there are two true rookies, coming in straight out of highschool.
Noah Pelletier had two stints with Team Saskatchewan, before making Canada’s U18 team this past winter.
“He was one of the biggest recruits we had last year, Team Canada quarterback, I think he was the best quarterback in Canada,” boasts McConkey.
The former Balfour Bear feels the competition amongst the quarterbacks, but said he likes the opportunity the year of training presents.
“For everyone it’s kind of time to really focus on the little things, get better because we can worry about ourselves more than other teams now,” said Pelletier.
There’s never been more of an opportunity for a player to earn the role behind centre, than now. There’s a year to make the jump from highschool to university level ball. But McConkey still favours legacy, if the season started tomorrow.
“To be honest, if we were to come into training camp, Josh Donnelly was our guy. He was the number one guy on the depth chart, and then right behind him was Bryden O’Flaherty and then the new three guys are coming in, coming to compete,” said McConkey.
Donnelly started the majority of games last season, and O’Flaherty saw action in six games.