The quarterback battle might be heating up for the University of Manitoba Bisons, but that doesn't mean there's any hostility.
The Bisons head to Regina Friday to take on the Rams in the lone pre-season game of the Bisons schedule. Bisons fourth-year incumbent Marc Paquette feels he's ready to take over the available quarterback position after Cam Clark graduated. However, recently recruited Jordan Yantz is prepared to give him a run for his money.
Bisons head coach Brian Dobie will make sure each player sees about half of the snaps during the pre-season game in order to determine who will lead the Bisons into the 2013 season.
"Both guys here are, in all sincerity, ripping up camp. It's not just words," Dobie said. "That's a high statement, but they really are ripping up camp. I think they bring out the best in each other and they're both highly capable."
Dobie believes it will come down to experience when selecting the starter. Paquette knows the Bisons' offensive system and has that edge over Yantz. However, Yantz has the experience of being a successful starting quarterback. Yantz was with the Vancouver Island Raiders when he picked up the 2012 Canadian Junior Football League's Most Outstanding Offensive Player award.
Yantz was a top recruit for the Bisons this year, and while they expect him to contribute to the team, his resum© alone won't be enough to land the job.
"Coming in here and competing against another guy is all I can ask for. It brings out the best in a football player and it brings out a true football player both on and off the field in how we respond to meetings or how we respond if he's that No. 1 guy or if I'm that No. 1 guy," Yantz said.
Yantz will get the chance to impress two groups of people when the Bisons head into Regina. Yantz will try to win over his coaches for the starting quarterback position and he'll play in his hometown for the first time since high school.
"I'm excited to go in there. I've just got to prove to the coaching staff and the football team and everyone else that I can be a leader on the field simply by making plays and helping the football team get a win," he said.
Paquette wasn't sure what to think when the Bisons signed Yantz this off-season, but he's adjusted his mindset and it's helped him have the most productive Bisons training camp of his career.
"They say you've got to beat the best to be the best and the best is on my team," Paquette said. "We both want to start and whoever is going to start our offence is really going to be rolling. And if something happens and one QB goes down, we can keep rolling and won't miss a beat at all. We'll keep throwing touchdowns and doing good things."
Paquette has taught himself how to calm himself on the field, avoid hurrying passes and, most importantly, have fun. He's noticed the more he enjoys himself on the gridiron, the more productive he is.
"This year it's all there. I'm confident and I just want to play now. I've been training, doing the right things and now I just want to have fun and play football," Paquette said. "I just want to relax and do my job. The coaches have made it very clear on our reads. This is what you do, almost like an algorithm. Only do the next thing after you finish the first. Just go through what they've taught me and I'll be fine."
Regardless of who starts behind centre this season, the Bisons are seeking to build off a 4-4 season that qualified them for the playoffs in 2012.
The offence is still powered by running back Anthony Coombs and slotback Nic Demski, who return for their third seasons with the Herd after being named CIS all-Canadians in the last two seasons.
The Bisons will play their first CIS home game at Investors Group Field on Aug. 30 against the Alberta Golden Bears. Game time is 7 p.m.