The Sun blasted the Valley Huskers on Saturday night 56-14, here are some highlights courtesy of VBN Sports in Chilliwack.
The Okanagan Sun rode the arm of Keith Zyla and three defensive touchdowns as they opened defence of their BC Football Conference title in Chilliwack Saturday.
Zyla, who played the second and fourth quarters, threw touchdown passes of 31, 74 and 64 yards in a 56-14 shellacking of the Valley Huskers in the opening game of the season for both teams.
After a shaky offensive start, Zyla took over from Foster Martens and hit Shamar Donelson from 31 yards out on his first play from scrimmage to put the Sun up 14-0.
Nathaniel Anderson took his next pass, on the Sun's next series, and went 74 yards down the left sideline, to put the Sun up 21-0.
Zyla closed out the scoring with a 64-yard strike to Liam Wishart. He finished the game 4-4 for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
The Sun shook off a slow start with five majors in the second quarter in building up a 42-7 lead at the half.
"It was a real sloppy start. Slow to get going," said first-year head coach Ben Macauley, still wet after being doused with the water bucket at the end of his first career win.
"I think it was first-game jitters. This unit has only been together for two weeks now. Some of it is to be expected."
First-year quarterback Foster Martens started the game and had a hard time moving the Sun offence for much of the first quarter.
His only success came late in the quarter when he capped off a three-play, 54-yard drive with a beautifully designed 26-yard scamper.
"The system we have favours Keith a little more...but we weren't giving Foster a whole lot of time to throw the ball and giving him the right plays to be successful.
"We have to do a better job of that as a coaching staff. Foster is a tough and smart guy and he knows where he goofed up in places. He's going to come out and have a better performance next week if he's getting some playing time."
The defence also got into the act in a big way, picking off Huskers quarterback Noah Falconer three times, returning all three for touchdowns.
Defensive backs Jamie Turek (40 yards) and Beck Fullerton (70 yards) both returned interceptions from the secondary, but it was lineman Elias Rodriguez's scamper that still resonated through the stadium after the game.
The 6'3, 250 pounder grabbed a ball, tipped at the line of scrimmage, and rambled 70 yards the other way.
That one could be an expensive one of the coach.
"I made a deal with the defensive line that if one of them scored, I was going to take them out for dinner. All he said to me when he came back was Asian Pear buffet, so it looks like I'm going to the buffet this week," said Macauley.
Kasey Russell rambled five-yards for the other Sun touchdown.
Of concern to the coach was the number of penalties his team took during the contest. The team was flagged 17 times for 175 yards. Fifteen of those penalties were assessed during the opening half.
"The stuff we can't tolerate are the personal fouls and things like that," said Macauley.
"Mental errors happen, but not decisions to make bad plays."
Defensive lineman Jonas Gering didn't make the trip to Chilliwack with a knee injury, while running back Abdi-Nasir Abdi played just briefly during the opening two series before leaving the game.
The Sun will travel to Kamloops next Saturday before hosting the Westshore Rebels in their home opener Saturday, Aug. 6.
Okanagan Sun @ Valley Huskers – Saturday July 23, 7:00pm, Exhibition Stadium
It’s the third time in four seasons that the Sun and Huskers meet to open the regular campaign. Last year the Sun dominated the Huskers outscoring them 130-3.
The Sun have never lost in Chilliwack in 14 meetings.
Head to Head in 2015
Record – Sun 10-0, Huskers – 0-10
Points For –Sun 488 – Huskers - 94
Points Against – Sun 108 – Huskers - 531
Passing Leaders –Cam Bedore* – 85 of 127 for 1501 yards, 21 touchdowns and 3 interceptions (Sun) – Noah Falconer – 148 of 315 for 1677 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (Huskers)
Rushing Leaders – Dillon Fortune* – 67 carries for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns (Sun) – Jackson Ryan – 55 carries for 285 yards and 1 touchdown (Huskers)
Receiving Leaders –Kyle Kawamoto* – 41 receptions for 1005 yards and 10 touchdowns (Sun) – Blake Draper – 43 receptions for 487 yards and 3 touchdowns (Huskers)
Field Goals –Thomas Huber* 15-20, 75% (Sun) – Ryan Beaubien 3-5, 60% (Huskers)
Leading Tacklers – Keagan Hughes* – 26 tackles (Sun) – Conner Smith – 43 tackles (Huskers)
Turnovers –Sun – 9 interceptions, 12 fumbles lost, 5 turnover on downs – Huskers – 10 interceptions, 13 fumbles lost, 17 turnovers on downs
*no longer with team
Listen to the Sun and Huskers live from Chilliwack HERE, starting with the Kick-Off Show at 6:30pm.
The new season begins on Saturday night in Chilliwack when the Sun face the Huskers, who they have never lost to.
Head Coach Ben Macauley will make his junior football debut and speaks with Ryan Watters about his club and the Huskers.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
The Okanagan Sun haven’t lost a regular season game since Week 2 of the 2014 season, a win streak that has reached 18 games.
A number of new faces fill the roster and the sidelines in 2016. Perhaps the most notable is the 16th head coach in franchise history as Ben Macauley takes the helm. It’s been a very busy five months for the former tight-end but he believes they have filled the needs of their open positions other than depth, something he’s confident they will work on throughout the year. One of the biggest questions remains who will be the #1 quarterback and can they have the same sort of success as the 488 points last year’s team posted? The defence will again be strong as most of the front seven returns including All-Canadian Jonas Gering, Lucas Machado, Kent Lawrence and Connor Novak. Add CFL draft pick Quinn Horton to the mix and this D-Line could be the best in the country.
The defending BCFC champs open the season on the road on Saturday night in Chilliwack against the Valley Huskers.
This past week the Sun signed another high profile defensive player as linebacker Conor Richard from Tennessee has joined the club.
An 18 year old with dual citizenship Richard played at Clarksville high school in Clarksville Tennessee. He joins an already talented group of linebackers led by the Canadian Bowl Defensive Player of the Game Layne Hull and veteran Chris Szybunka.
Richard becomes the third Sun player on the roster with dual citizenship; returning defensive lineman Kent Lawrence from California and first year receiver Nathaniel Anderson from Utah.
The Sun are putting the final preparations together for the season opener in Chilliwack this coming Saturday night.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
He is one of the leaders on and off the field and he`s officially back for his fourth and final year in Kelowna. Lucas Machado who finished with seven sacks last year is ready to get back to the Canadian Bowl to end his junior career.
The Winnipeg native speaks with Ryan Watters.
The Sun coaching staff is proud and excited to announce the signing of a CFL Draft pick to the 2016 roster.
Quinn Horton is coming off an outstanding 2015 with SFU where he was the team’s top tackling defensive linemen with 22 solo tackles, 8.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks. In his junior year, Horton was named first-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Following the 2015 season Horton was selected 68th overall by the Calgary Stampeders this past June in the CFL draft. He’s a big body at 6’3, 289 pounds of power.
Head Coach Ben Macauley is particularly excited about Horton as he can dominate on both the defensive AND offensive lines, “Quinn comes in with a goal of returning to the CFL and in the process, battling for a National Championship. He was one of the top players in the GNAC conference and is physically dominant in the trenches. He checks all the boxes: size, talent, strength, and high quality of character.”
The Sun Main Camp will conclude this coming weekend, final cuts will be made and the roster will be set in preparation for the season opener in Chilliwack on July 23rd.
Don't miss a second of the action this year as the Sun look to defend their BCFC title with the Canadian Bowl held in BC this year. Season tickets are available now HERE!
Ben Macauley was hopeful choosing a starting quarterback for the Okanagan Sun would cause some consternation for his coaching staff.
With returnee Keith Zyla and newcomer Foster Martens going neck-and-neck for the No. 1 job, it looks like the new Sun head coach has been granted his wish.
Based on their performances on the opening weekend of the Sun's main camp, Macauley
said the position should be in capable hands in 2016.
"They both responded really well under the pressure to perform," Macauley said of Zyla and Martens following Sunday's practise. "They're making a difficult job for us which is exactly what we want, you never want that to be an easy question.
"The competition has been high between them," he said, "and they've been bonding really well with each other. That's what we want to see."
The starter's job came open this year with the departures of the team's top two quarterbacks from 2015, Cam Bedore (graduation) and Josiah Joseph (University of Calgary).
The Sun initially had five pivots in the running, but have since seen the field reduced to three with Zyla, Martens and Nick Wenman, who is back for his second season with the team, now sharing the duties.
Zyla, 20, who is entering his second full season with the Sun, got his feet wet at QB in 2015, completing 5-of-14 passes for 194 yards while rushing for 84 yards on 12 carries.
Considered more of an athletic, running type of quarterback than Martens, Macauley said the Sun may not hesitate to use Zyla in other positions this season.
Still, Zyla plans to focus on securing the No. 1 job on offense.
"Quarterback is my preference, that's the position I'd like to play but I'll play anywhere the coaches want, whatever helps the team win," said Zyla, who was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL. "Our offence is based a bit on my style, I think that would work well for me. But Foster is looking really good, too, so it'll be a battle no matter what."
A native of Steinbach, MB, Martens has some CIS experience having spent the previous three seasons with the University of Manitoba Bisons.
A U of M, he played alongside former Okanagan quarterback and close friend, Theo Deezar. More of a pocket passer than Zyla, Martens expects the competition at Sun camp to only bring out the best in both players.
"Keith's a great athlete and him and I are getting to be close, so there's no tension about it at all," said Martens, 20. "It's pretty open, we're both here to win, so whoever gets the start and gets to play on game day, we'll be rooting for each other."
The 6-foot-2, 215 pound Martens had several options for the two seasons of junior football he had remaining, but said the Sun stood out above the rest.
"It's a winning organization, the Sun is known for being successful, so I wanted to go where I thought I could have success right away and compete for a championship," he said. "When I came out for spring camp it was a good atmosphere, a tight-knit group and a family-oriented team. It just felt right."
While the battle for No. 1 comes down to Zyla and Martens, coach Ben Macauley said sophomore Nick Wenman provides solid backup support.
"Nick has a great attitude, he goes out and fights on every rep, and he has no problem hanging in with those other guys. He's come in this year with a lot of confidence."
Macauley's first camp…
Just as Ben Macauley is new to the head coaching job, about half the 76-man roster is also new to the B.C. Football Conference club this season.
After watching the first two days of the club's main camp on Saturday and Sunday at the Apple Bowl practise field, Macauley said, as expected, there are still plenty of questions yet to be answered.
Still, the first-year field boss is excited to see the club's identity take shape as the 2016 season progresses.
"There's some uncertainty still of what kind of team we're going to be, so I think we have a role as coaches to shape that a little bit," said Macauley, who was an assistant coach with the Sun in 2012 and 2013. "Obviously each player brings something unique and it's gong to be up to us, finding out what their strengths are, and taking advantage of those.
"We really want to set the standard high as far as character goes and the way we approach the game."
The Sun opens the BCFC regular season July 23 in Chilliwack.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
Two major pieces of the running game returns in 2016 and will feature more power on the ground then in previous years.
Last season the run game was extremely important to the success of the team and the passing game, and Coach Macauley is hoping for more of the same this year.
He had an outstanding rookie campaign last year as a Moscrop grad. He (pictured) carried 34 times for 212 yards and scored seven majors, four of them in the regular season finale in Kamloops. He’s a big body at over 200 pounds with powerful legs making him difficult to bring down. Now with a year under his belt, he’s ready to do more damage and challenge for a BCFC rushing title.
He enters his 22 year old season and will be a leader and a mentor for the younger players. In his first two seasons with the Sun he’s collected 10 touchdowns and has been relied upon in short yardage situations. He’s also been a tremendous blocking back and can play on special teams.
He was a member of the Calgary Dinos last season as a rookie and was one of the players the coaching staff was extremely excited to sign on National Signing Day. A graduate of the Henry Wise Wood in Calgary he should make an immediate impact this season.
A grad of the Sexsmith Sabres in Alberta last season as his club finished 7-2 in the regular campaign. He was part of a very potent offence that scored 48 points in their regional semi-final game.
He played in Quebec part of a CSEP program and was very effective. The coaching staff has high hopes that he’ll compete for the starting role.
The KSS product is returning to football after a year off last season. Back in 2014 as a member of the Owls Ash carried the rock 66 times and scored a touchdown.
A back with a tremendous upside as a graduate of Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw. The coaching staff was excited they were able to sign the rookie on National Signing Day. He is quick, as good hands and has all the tools to be an impact player in the CJFL.
His St. Joseph’s Celtics finished 13-0 in the Tier 2 division in Alberta last season. Gordon was a big piece of the offensive success as the Celtics outscored their playoff opposition 101-91 last year. The Celtics were upset in the Tier 2 Provincial final after a defensive collapse. Gordon has great ability and is itching to show it off at main camp this weekend.
A local product and RSS grad, Robertson played well for the Voodoos in 2015 and will challenge for a roster spot at main camp this weekend.
07/27/2016, 12:00am PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
07/24/2016, 10:30pm PDT, By VBN Sports Chilliwack
07/24/2016, 7:45am PDT, By Wayne Moore - Castanet.net
07/22/2016, 11:15pm PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
07/22/2016, 12:00am PDT, By Ryan Watters
07/21/2016, 3:45pm PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
07/21/2016, 9:45am PDT, By Wayne Moore - Castanet
07/18/2016, 10:30pm PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
07/18/2016, 11:00am PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
07/17/2016, 10:00pm PDT, By Ryan Watters