Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 10, 2014

New challenges await Traverse City Wolves

TRAVERSE CITY — Things are shaping up for the Traverse City Wolves.

The semi-pro football team ended last season 5-5, just missing the playoffs. Then came an off-season of change.

The franchise moved from the Great Midwest Football League to the Great Lakes Football League and hired Art McGuff to take over head coaching duties.

The Wolves have 40 players currently on the roster — with 20 holdovers from last year’s squad. McGuff expects to add a few more players, as the team has a combine April 26 at Elk Rapids High School. The cost for players to try out is $20, but that is credited to the playing fee if they make the team.

“Forty would be a great number,” said McGuff, who was the team’s quarterback and running back coach last year. “Last year, we had 47, but by the end of the season we had maybe 26. I’d rather have more committed guys who are going to be here.”

In Tuesday’s practice, McGuff said he was impressed with the wide receivers, running backs and safeties.

“As far as the speed positions, we’re loaded,” McGuff said.

And the interior could get a huge boost from a contingent of Flint players recruited to join the squad.

The team includes 15 players with college experience and an influx of players from Flint, including massive offensive tackles Devon and Dingo Brown. The brothers are 6-foot-8 and 6-7 and around 340 pounds each.

Mason McGuff was last year’s opening-day starter before tearing a knee meniscus in the first half. Jonathan Craven — who also returns — took over at QB the rest of the way. Craven is expected to play running back and receiver this year and see some action as a wildcat quarterback in Art McGuff’s offense that patterns itself after Texas Tech’s “Air Raid” game plan under Mike Leach. Brett Kenny and David Huft are also expected to compete for quarterback duties.

“He’s not going to play unless he earns it,” Art McGuff said of his son.

Familiarity helps, though.

“We’ll be on the field and we’ll see the exact same thing at the exact same time and just look at each other,” McGuff said. “He so much like me, it’s sickening.”

Among the additions are former Traverse City St. Francis linebackers Malcom and Noah Lalonde, Frankfort receiver Nolan Nye and Traverse City Central grad Ray Gidley, who returns to the team after an absence.

Tight end Aaron Bennett is having surgery for bone spurs and could miss much of the season.

Traverse City opens the season May 17 on the road against the Capital City Stealth, a team that features former Michigan State players Chris Rucker and A.J. Jimmerson. The Stealth come to Traverse City on July 12. The home opener is May 31 against the Muskegon Mustangs, where fans can get a glimpse of the team’s new jerseys.

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