The sky was blue, the rap music was loud and the reigning Grey Cup champions were happy to recapture the necklace.

After the advent of the P’tit train du Nord, the hostage taking of 1978 and the renovation of Dic Ann’s, the writing of another page of history began in Saint-Jérôme on Sunday, when the Hundreds of players present at the Montreal Alouettes training camp set foot on the synthetic turf of the two fields at Multisports Park.

All afternoon, the Als players were drilled like soldiers. Nothing was left to chance. Each of the exercises, rehearsals and scenarios had been prepared with care and precision. When the whistles sounded, players transitioned from one field to another. The perfectly synchronized sound of their spiked shoes on the concrete applied between the two fields sounded like those of soldiers training inside a military base about to be abandoned for the battlefield.

This is a bit of the feeling felt by the organization and its artisans. The Alouettes players, underestimated just a year ago, will be eagerly awaited by the other organizations in the Canadian Football League.

Last fall, Jason Maas’ squad surprised everyone by beating the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in quick succession to win their first Gray Cup in 13 years.

This adventure, as fantastic as it has been, must not become too solid an anchor for the players, believes Maas, because at the start of the season, everything has to start again.

“2023 is in the past. It’s 2024,” he said after a training session of more than two hours, during which his players showed intensity, commitment and enthusiasm.

“We have established several standards. And we will continue. New year, new start, new faces. You have to know how to come together,” he continued.

The temperature was perfect in the city of possibilities, as was the opportunity for the players to take for granted that this season will be a guaranteed success after their exploits of last year. With few resources and faces almost unknown to the general public, this group managed to conquer the heart of a pessimistic and distant partisan base, in addition to having brought back a certain pride to the village.

The ring that the champions received on Friday will forever act as a fresco of their success. And this reward, Maas hopes, will be enough to remind his players how tasty a championship is.

“We don’t need to motivate anyone,” rejoices the 48-year-old head coach. We are the Champions. GOOD. But no one needs to be reminded what our goal is. You don’t have to think too far ahead, you have to take it day by day. It’s all about chemistry and good work habits. And you don’t have to work just on match days. Every day counts. I don’t really care what other people think of us. »

Asked which groups of players he would focus on during this camp which will be held until June 1 in the capital of the Laurentians, Maas was evasive.

“We focus on all positions. We want everyone to raise their level. Our values ​​are not going to change. And this, regardless of what position the players play. »

However, the team’s general manager, Danny Maciocia, was a little more transparent.

“Carrier,” he said first. “It’s a position of interest to me. We have quality too. There are decisions that will have to be made at the end of camp as to which direction one goes for the running back position. »

There are currently 10 names on the roster at running backs and fullbacks. The competition will be fierce between Jeshrun Antwi, Sean Thomas-Erlington and Walter Fletcher. The starting position became available when William Stanback chose to continue his career with the BC Lions.

Maciocia then talked about the defensive line. “I think we have excellent players internally. Now it’s a matter of knowing who are the two or three players we should keep. » The departure of Lwal Uguak to the NFL and the suspension of Shawn Lemon have certainly changed the general manager’s plans.

Finally, he mentioned the defensive backs: “I’m curious to know if there are one or two that will stand out over the next few weeks,” he added.