Trojans build from a place of humility

Football team emphasizing character, staying grounded

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This article was published 24/05/2016 (2268 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As the sun sets on Fort Garry, Kelsey McKay’s voice breaks the calm of the quiet neighbourhood.

Hollering out orders to Vincent Massey Collegiate’s football team from down the field at École Viscount Alexander School, McKay is making the athletes run and hit the dirt. Two weeks into their spring training camp, it’s a reminder for the squad of what it takes to be ANAVETS Bowl Champions, McKay said.

With two-thirds of last year’s championship-winning team returning to play again, the team has as much talent as last season’s roster, but they have work to do when it comes to character, McKay said.

Danielle Da Silva - Sou'wester Jalen Burley and Andreas Dueck are going into their senior year with the Vincent Massey Collegiate Trojans football team. They’re working towards a repeat of last year’s championship season.

McKay points to defensive end Jalen Burley and quarterback Andreas Dueck as two players who lead by example.

“(Dueck’s) extremely humble and has got a lot of attention in the last month from CIS coaches and in fact it doesn’t make him uncomfortable,” McKay said. “It motivates him and it doesn’t stagnate him.  He’s not one of those guys who thinks he’s made it, because when you think you’ve made it you actually start going backwards; you start regressing.”

Dueck, 6-1 and 185 pounds, said that as QB he has to be a positive leader and build up the team for the benefit of all, adding that with a stacked roster, it’s important to remind his teammates to take responsibility for their performance.

Danielle Da Silva - Sou'wester Andreas Dueck works on a play during practice with the Trojans.

“I think a quarterback always needs to be confident out there,” he said. “You also need to hold players accountable.”

Flanking Dueck during drills, Burley is also getting increased attention heading into his senior year of ball. The 17-year-old was named number 55 on Canada Football Chat’s Class of 2017 Top 100 rankings.

Not one to boast, the 6-1 200-pound former running back said the recognition has been a long time in the making.

Danielle Da Silva - Sou'wester Vincent Massey Collegiate defensive end Jalen Burley.

“It feels great,” Burley said. “I’ve been really working towards that since I started playing high school (football). The nomination is a real accomplishment.”

Burley said he hopes to one day make it to the CIS level (and beyond), but for now is focusing on making Team Manitoba for the second year as a defensive end.

McKay said Burley’s strengths lie in his quickness, intelligence and explosiveness, and like Dueck he’s realized the game isn’t about him.

McKay also held up Dueck’s humility and dedication as an example of the attitude he said the team will need to adopt if it wants to win another ANAVETS championship.

Dueck, 17, began his football career with the Crescentwood Grizzlies and when he arrived at VMC, the coaches selected him to start as quarterback in Grade 10.

Over the years, the Trojans’ offence has evolved around Dueck’s strengths, his poise under pressure, and his ability to get three or four guys the ball at all times, McKay said.

“Playing the position of quarterback and coaching for such a long time, you get an idea of what it takes,” he said. “First of all there has to be a tremendous work ethic, then there has to be great selfless leadership — Andreas has never been about himself — and with that work ethic no one works harder than him, and with that comes respect by his teammates.”

Both Dueck and Burley can be seen in action at the upcoming Elite Blue and Gold Games at Investors Group Field on May 28 and VMC will play in a home exhibition game on June 3.

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