The Fort McMurray Monarchs are looking to get back on track after a disappointing finish to 2017.
Several forfeited wins last year left the Monarchs quite rusty on route to last year’s AFL championship – where they ultimately fell to the Calgary Gators 33-21.
Fortunately, the Monarchs started off 2018 on the right foot – with a convincing 52-17 victory over the St Albert Stars.
First-year Head Coach Jesse Maddox tells Mix News just like the previous three seasons – Fort McMurray has championship aspirations.
“Realistically, that is the goal and we ran into some issues last year with teams forfeiting and some rules within the league that were somewhat abused but they were rectified this offseason. So, it should make for a more competitive environment and limit the forfeits, which is great.”
Maddox – who took over the reins for Dave Spence – was the team’s defensive and special teams coach last year and is a former Monarch himself.
He notes that those three forfeited games – one of which was the AFL Semi-Final – had a significant impact on the outcome of last year’s championship.
Looking onward, the Monarchs’ coach feels this team has the right recipe to be extremely successful.
“We’ve got three or four really good running backs, all from the university ranks – Leonardo Mantula, Bryce Harper, Devon Stewart is back as well. We’ve got a pretty talented receiving core and a new QB. It’s going to be interesting to see. Week one was kind of a test game, get everybody feels and touches and see where they’re at. This week, we’re going to kind of see who the dogs are and that’s kind of what I’m after.”
Now, with a win under their belt, the focus shifts to tomorrow’s home opener against the Central Alberta Buccaneers.
Head Coach Jesse Maddox says they expect a dogfight from a divisional rival that’s given them some trouble in the past.
“I know they’re back to that form, same quarterback, same players, the coach is back so, I expect them to be a lot more competitive than what they were last year. It’s a great matchup for us because it’s a good way for us to test where we stand because it’s a similar team to what we do.”
The Monarchs take on the Buccaneers on Saturday at SMS Equipment Stadium – with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to bring some food for the team’s food drive, in support of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank.