There were times during the 2011 B.C. Football Conference season when J.J. Mraovic admittedly tried to shoulder too much of his team’s load.
Now with a year of experience under his belt, complimented by added growth and maturity, the Okanagan Sun’s No. 1 quarterback feels considerably more capable, both as a leader and as a teammate.
“I think one of the main things I learned from last year was not to take too much on myself,” said Mraovic, 22. “We have a lot of great athletes on this football team, returning guys and new guys coming in who are all going to do their part. My job is not to take so much on my plate, be a good person and a good teammate who can listen to the guys if they have any concerns.
“When you’re a quarterback you have to be a leader,” Mravoic added, “but you also have to remember everybody has an important job to do. My job is to go out and call plays and make sure everyone knows their role.”
Still, it wasn’t as though Mraovic wasn’t productive on the field during the 2011 season. His 109 completions, 2,057 yards passing and 18 touchdown passes all rated among the league-leaders in the BCFC, as Okanagan posted an 8-2 regular season record.
While first-year head coach Gavin Lake wasn’t exposed to Mraovic’s exploits on the field last season, he is encouraged by what the Winnipeg native has brought in to training camp in 2012.
“Any quarterback you want to lead by example, you want him to do what the playbook asks, you want him to be a ball distributor, manage the game and fit within the structure of the system,” said Lake. “And J.J. is doing a great job of that.”
Mraovic will be backed up this season by W.J. Mouat (Abbotsford) grad Cam Bedore, and returning pivot Austin Komonoski (Saskatoon.)
After a premature end to last year which saw the Sun lose in the first round of the playoffs to Langley, it goes without saying Mraovic and his teammates want a better end result in 2012.
Yet, as tempting as it is to look at the big picture, Mraovic believes the Sun’s success this season will hinge on playing the season one play, one practice and one day at a time.
“Our expectations are to be the best we can be each week, get one per cent better each and every day, and focus on short-term goals,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound pivot. “You can’t win the whole season in one game. Practice is preparation for better success, so when we come out here everyday we want to better than the day before. If we do that, then the ceiling is very high for this team.”
Mraovic should have plenty of weapons to work with an offense, as coach Gavin Lake considers both the receiving corps and running backs areas of particular strength for the Sun.
Lake is also excited about the club’s defensive line, led by CJFL defensive player of the year Steven Doege. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound lineman spent much of the last six weeks practicing with the CFL’s B.C. Lions before the start of Sun camp.
“You get to hit professionals in practise, and then you hit a 17-year-old at our camp and there’s a big difference,” Lake said. “It shows in (Doege’s) game, he looks very good.”
Sun Spots…The Sun will take on the Kamloops Broncos this Saturday in Salmon Arm in an exhibition game. Kick off is 2 p.m.…The Sun will open the regular season Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Apple Bowl against the Langley Rams.