Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
One of the questions coming into Main Camp on July 9th will be who will carry the rock for the Sun on the ground in 2016?
Following last season the top two rushers announced they will not be returning this season. Dillon Fortune graduated and will play CIS ball out east this fall while Kory Nagata left to help the UBC Thunderbirds defend their Vanier Cup title.
The Sun are hoping sophomore Abdi-Nasir Abdi can fill the hole left by these two players. Just a year ago Abdi came to Kelowna at 18 years young out of Moscrop high school in Burnaby. As a true rookie he didn’t see much of the field early on despite scoring his first CJFL touchdown in his first CJFL game on the natural grass of the Apple Bowl. After four carries in Week 1, Abdi didn’t touch the ball again until Week 5 when he scored another major. As a matter of fact Abdi’s first road carry wasn’t until Week 6 in Langley. However after an injury to Nagata in Week 7, the coaching staff began to insert Abdi in different situations and he earned himself more and more playing time.
His best game was easily the regular season finale in Kamloops when he rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries and scored an incredible four touchdowns. In all he finished the regular campaign with 34 carries, 212 yards and seven TDs.
In the playoffs the rookie scored a pair of touchdowns on nine carries, giving the coaching staff a glimpse of what’s to come in the future. The staff is hoping the future is now.
A year ago not only did Abdi show bursts of breakaway speed, but his power makes him a duel threat when he runs downhill. He tips the scales at over 200 pounds with powerful legs, making it extremely difficult to bring him down with just an arm tackle. Defenders will be forced to take a blow from Abdi before attempting to bring him down.
The coaching staff is hoping Abdi can lead by example on the field and pick up where he left off a year ago. He will be one of nine running backs in camp trying to fill the holes left by Fortune and Nagata. The Sun have had a long list of successful running backs and Abdi would like nothing more than to join this list with the likes of Jeff Halverson, Terrance Huston and Ron Arnold.
Abdi will be joined at camp and in the backfield by veteran Kasey Russell, Brendan Hansen, Levi Stewart, Trevor Ash, Carter Gordon, Dakota Robertson, Kelton Kouri and Ashtton Ewers.
Main camp opens July 9th, then the 2016 season kicks off on the road in Chilliwack on July 23rd.
He’s arguably one of the best receivers ever to dawn the orange and brown, playing from 2006-2010.
Calgary native Matt Scheurwater was the “go-to” player when the club needed a big play on offence. In 2008 he caught a career high 57 passes for 1117 yards, then followed it up the next year with 45 receptions for 725 yards.
Despite all the big games he played in he says the highlight of his career was “playing at the Apple Bowl. It never got old and the energy was always electric.”
In his final game at the Apple Bowl, he caught two passes for 50 yards during the BCFC Cullen Cup final against the VI Raiders. It was a game that ended in heartbreak, with a 16-14 loss on October 17, 2010.
Following his incredible junior career Scheurwater moved across the country and played for Concordia University in Montreal along with Sun teammates Max Caron, Daylon Pommier, Paul Spencer and Brendan Urness.
Today Scheurwater in back in Calgary running his own construction company, but football is not out of his life. He still plays in a flag football league in the city. He says he would love to come back and play for the Sun again, unless he had to give up his experiences. His advice for the young Sun receivers; “focus on the fun times and to remember all the stories because the day does come when you suit up one last time.”
Scheurwater feels fortunate for the time he spent at the Apple Bowl, “junior football and the Okanagan Sun organization taught me many things but how to deal with adversity is the first that comes to mind.”
In his final season, 2010, he caught a team high 33 passes for 680 yards, averaging 20.8 yards a catch. He also had seven touchdowns including a 79 yarder.
When Sun fans look back at his career the debate will continue of who the best receiver was to ever play. One thing is for sure, Matt Scheurwater is right at the top of that discussion.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
When the BC Lions announced their transactions on June 12th, Brennan Van Nistelrooy was released from the roster.
He was selected 48th overall by the Lions in the CFL Draft after an outstanding Evaluation Camp and CFL Combine. However an ankle injury at Rookie Camp has put his CFL future on hold for the time being.
This doesn’t mean Van Nistelrooy’s football career is over, not by a long shot. The reigning BCFC Defensive Player of the Year will now head home to Alberta and enrol in the University of Calgary, and suit up for the mighty Dinos.
To make the transition a little easier, Van Nistelrooy will be reunited with quarterback Josiah Joseph and offensive lineman Cliff Crews in Calgary.
The Dinos open the new Canada West season on the road, September 1 at the University of Manitoba, before their home opener on September 9th against the reigning Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds. Former Sun players Ryley Butler and Kory Nagata will go head to head with Van Nistelrooy.
Meanwhile the Sun will open main camp on July 9th in preparation for the season opener on July 23 at the Valley Huskers.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
Head Coach Ben Macauley has named his coaching staff for the upcoming season. A number of coaches return from last year’s Cullen Cup championship team including Ray Wheatley, Andre Knights, Greg Patchell, Don Richmond and Mike Botterill.
A few familiar faces return to the club after time away including Nathan Mollard and Adam Gambouras while some faces are brand new to coaching like Mike Wolthuizen and Jerod Zaleski.
Here is the full list of coaches for the 2016 season:
Ben Macauley: Head Coach
Nathan Mollard: Defensive Coordinator, Recruiting Coordinator (pictured)
Mike Wolthuizen: Offensive Coordinator
Greg Patchell: Receivers
Don Richmond: Running backs
Bryan Theissen: Offensive Line
Ray Wheatley: Team Manager, Offensive Line
Darren Brezden: Quarterbacks, Offensive Quality Control
Adam Gambouras: Quarterbacks
Aaron Goddard: Defensive Line
Michael Botterill: Linebackers
Jeff Mock: Linebackers
Evin Polack: Linebackers
Andre Knights: Defensive backs
Kyle Kuzek: Defensive line, Scout
Jerod Zaleski: Receivers/ Runningbacks
These coaches are preparing for Main Camp which kicks off July 9.
Michele Vecchio, Matt McConnell and Layne Hull are back after attending the BC Lions Rookie Camp two weeks ago.
For McConnell and Hull it was the first CFL Rookie Camp of their football careers. While Vecchio attended his second straight Lions camp. All three players were invited after showing tremendous skill at the Lions Evaluation Camp back in April, coming off their 2015 season which saw them excel.
The threesome all received praise from the Lions coaching staff before being sent back to the junior ranks.
Hull was praised by Wally Buono himself, telling the Willowbrook Saskatchewan native that he really liked him on Special Teams. The Lions linebacker coach Chris Tormey telling Hull that he liked what he bought to the table and that he improved every day. “It’s pretty exciting to hear that from a CFL coach,” said Hull.
He now returns to the Sun knowing what the Lions want him to focus on.
“I felt more relaxed knowing what to expect this year,” says offensive lineman Vecchio. “It’s still a whole new world up there,” he continued.
This was Vecchio’s second trip to Lions Rookie Camp, after an impressive showing last year. That said he was struck with the injury bug heading into Lions Main Camp which didn’t allow him to carry on. Fast forward to this year and the Kelowna native was as strong as ever. He again impressed the coaches and has been sent back to the Sun with this advice. “They said it doesn’t matter where you are from; the NFL, CFL or CIS, you have to work for a spot and you’re going to want to compete and take someone’s job from them.”
Like Hull and Vecchio, McConnell was sent back to the Sun for his final year of junior eligibility. He returns with a wealth of knowledge of the next level and how to achieve his goal of playing professional football.
These three current Sun players weren’t the only familiar faces in Kamloops. Lions draft pick Brennan Van Nistelroooy was also competing for a spot. He suffered a lower body injury early on, but has since come back strong and by all accounts is fitting in. He attended the Lions “Fan Fest” this past weekend, finally getting cheered at Hillside Stadium, after giving the Kamloops Broncos offence nightmares. He is hopeful he’ll get the nod this Saturday when the Lions play an exhibition game in Saskatchewan against the Riders. Oddly enough, it’s the same Province in which Van Nistelrooy ended his junior career.
As Van Nistelrooy competes for a roster spot at Lions Main Camp, the other three players are preparing for the Sun Main Camp which kicks off on July 9th at the Apple Bowl. The 2016 season opens July 23rd in Chilliwack against the Huskers.
It was like Christmas in June for Head Coach Ben Macauley as the CJFL held their annual National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Coach Macauley and his staff were eager to sign players to start to fill out the roster with talent from across the country.
When the dust had settled he talked with Ryan Watters
Today is a day players, coaches and board of directors have been looking forward to since the end of the 2015 season. It’s the CJFL’s National Signing Day.
Head Coach Ben Macauley and his staff have been tirelessly recruiting players since he took over the helm in February. Two weeks ago they got a firsthand look at these recruits on the field at Spring Camp and watched how they gelled with some of the veterans. Today Coach Macauley is hoping those top recruits make the decision to sign with the orange and brown for the 2016 season.
Well over 40 new players are expected to sign with the club and will be attending Main Camp which starts on July 9th.
Today is a big decision not only for the coaches and organization, who are investing in this player for potentially four to five years; it is as well for the player. When he signs with the Sun, or any CJFL team, that player is essentially signing for his entire junior football career as he becomes the property of that team. Knowing this, some players have attended multiple Spring Camps. The players that sign today with the Sun believe this is the perfect fit for them.
Once the coaching staff knows who will sign, they can begin installing schemes and systems for main camp along with the regular season.
Coach Macauley and his staff can continue to recruit players if they see a hole that needs to be filled. Once National Signing Day hits, players can be signed immediately.
It’s a big day for so many people around the organization as the new season starts to unfold. Follow some of the signings on Twitter and Instagram #sunwin and #cjflsigning
The Okanagan Sun were saddened to learn of the passing of a long time friend, Terry Henderson. Terry was a member of the Board of Directors twice, most recently the 2010-2011 seasons.
He was a die hard fan, and his involvement in the football community of Kelowna goes way back to his teens playing for Immaculata High School and later with the origins of the Kelowna Touch Football League.
Terry brought experience, enthusiasm, good humour, and kindness into everything he did and his time spent as a member of the Sun organization was no exception. He organized the successful Okanagan Sun Golf Tournaments, and he positive attitude was inspiring to all. Through all his health challenges recently, we didn't hear him complain.
We will all miss his laugh, his enjoyment of life, and his sincere caring.
The entire Okanagan Sun family sends their condolences to his friends and loved ones.
Photo courtesy of Louis Christ
In collaboration with the BC Lions, the Sun are excited to announce Layne Hull, Michele Vecchio and Matt McConnell will attend the Lions’ Rookie Camp next week.
The Lions have been keeping a watchful eye on these players over the last couple of years and believe they could be an asset.
This will be Michele Vecchio’s second straight Rookie Camp. Last season he performed better than expected and won an invitation to Lions’ Main Camp, however an injury didn’t allow him to participate. This season the veteran is hopeful to get the same opportunity. He speaks with Ryan Watters below.
Layne Hull gets his first invite to Lions’ Rookie Camp following an outstanding 2015 campaign that culminated with winning the Canadian Bowl Defensive Player of the Game award. He made two tackles, had three assists, blocked a kick and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and picked off a pass. During the regular season he tallied 14 tackles, 3.5 sacks and forced a fumble. He shares his thoughts with Ryan Watters below.
Matt McConnell gets his first invitation to Lions’ Rookie Camp after appearing at four spring Evaluation Camps. He collected 22 tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 2 knockdowns, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown and an interception last season.
All three players will join Lions’ draft pick Brennan Van NIstelrooy at Camp which begins on Wednesday at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops.
Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography
Former receiver Kyle Kawamoto has been invited to the Saskatchewan Roughriders main camp after signing with the CFL club.
Last month the Sun co-MVP was invited to their Mini-Camp and impressed the coaching staff so much by making plays. They said “he’s deceptively fast and very elusive after catching the ball.”
With the Riders needing Canadian depth at the receiver position, Kawamoto would be a perfect fit.
Last season he caught 41 passes for 1,005 yards and 10 touchdowns in helping bring back the Cullen Cup to the Okanagan.
Kawamoto will attend the Riders main camp at the end of May in Saskatoon, oddly enough the site of his final junior game last season.
Good luck Kyle!
The Sun by the way will open main camp July 9th.
06/21/2016, 12:30pm PDT, By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)
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