Compete. That is what first-year head coach Jeff Alamolhoda sums up he is looking for from his football team, the Langley Rams.
“We need to be able to come out every week and compete,” he said.
“If we can do that … I think we can deem that as a success.
“As long as we are competing and fighting and clawing every week and that guys aren’t hanging their heads if we do get one loss here or there.”
The Rams, who moved to Langley in the spring after more than 60 years in Surrey and South Surrey, begin the 2011 B.C. Junior Football Conference schedule on Saturday at McLeod Park.
The league is for players ages 18 to 22.
And the team faces a stiff test to start, the Vancouver Island Raiders.
The Raiders and the Okanagan Sun — who were both 9-1 last season — return several key players from last season, so they should both once again be formidable foes.
The Rams, the Westshore (Victoria) Rebels, Kamloops Broncos and Chilliwack Huskers make up the rest of the league.
Alamolhoda said his squad features a strong returning core — about a quarter of the 2010 roster — who wanted to be a part of the organization’s move east from Surrey.
“They have a sense of pride that goes with the Rams, and they wanted to continue with that,” he said.
“Those are the guys that are going to fight tooth and nail on the field.”
Combining that returning group with a strong crop of new recruits leaves Alamolhoda optimistic.
“We have some very good athletes in key spots, including quarterback, running back and some receiver spots, as well as on the opposite side of the ball,” Alamolhoda said.
The starting quarterback role will be filled by Nate White, who started about half of last season, missing time because of injury.
White threw for 1,160 yards with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2010.
“Coming into camp, he has shown everyone that he definitely has the ability to be a starting quarterback in this league and an elite quarterback in this league,” Alamolhoda said.
The coach plans to use the team’s speed to its advantage.
Nick Downey, the reigning Canadian Junior Football League special teams player of the year in 2010, is back. Last season, he recorded more than 1,000 return yards and ran back three kicks for touchdowns.
Alamolhoda plans on giving Downey more of a shot on offence.
“We will try and utilize him on the offensive side of the ball and get the football in his hands and see what he can really do,” the coach explained.
Last year, he rushed for 114 yards on just eight attempts, and caught 15 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns.
The defence will be anchored by corner Jordan Linnen, who earned an invite to the B.C. Lions main training camp and showed well enough to play in a pre-season game.
Defensive lineman Kurtis Pedersen, who led the team last year with seven sacks, is also back.
“The game is going to be a lot faster for (the younger guys) at first. We just have to make sure that we keep focused, keep our eye on the prize, per se,” Alamolhoda said.
“Stay focused and understand it is a process, it is going to be a long process, and we want to accomplish our main goals towards the end of the year.
“As long as we get better every week and be competitive week in and week out, that will deem our season a success.”