After stellar 2013 rookie seasons that saw them both earn starting jobs with the club a pair of Okanagan Sun players have been invited to the BC Lions evaluation camp that will take place later this month.
6’3, 215 pound safety Matt Mcconnell (Chilliwack Giants Midgets) was a physical presence in the secondary all season long and contributed 21 tackles and 3 interceptions. Matt’s starting in the Sun defensive backfield was even more impressive as it was considered the top secondary in the conference.
6’1, 295 pound offensive lineman Michele Vecchio (Rutland Secondary) is a local product who was a fixture at centre all season long and played like a veteran since his first game.
Mcconnell and Vecchio join Sun teammates Jonas Gering (DL), Brandon Donkers (2013 graduated linebacker), Brennan Van Nistlerooy (DB) and Jack Rush (2013 graduated safety).
The Okanagan Sun has added a 22 year old offensive lineman from Winnipeg, one with a knowledge of the British Columbia Football Conference.
6’3, 285 pound Luke Boschman (Winnipeg-Churchill High School) has committed to the club after spending last season with the University of Manitoba Bisons. Boschman returns to BC after previously being a member of the Westshore Rebels offensive line from 2010-2012 seasons.
Sun head coach Shane Beatty was alerted to Boschman by another Winnipeger heading back for a second stint in BC. Defensive lineman Kris Stevens who was announced as a 2014 commit two weeks ago suggested Beatty look into Boschman’s availability.
Boschman, who is expected to line up at guard on his decision to return British Columbia and suit up for a former rival club.
“Coach (Beatty) contacted me and since I wasn’t going back to school, the Okanagan was a pretty good choice as far as a team I’d want to play for. The players there I know all say real good things about the team and I like Kelowna so, yeah...I’m excited about it.”
The British Columbia Football Conference released the 2014 schedule today, it sees the Okanagan Sun play a 10 game schedule that kicks off on the road July 26 against the Chilliwack Valley Huskers.
The playoff dates have not yet been released.
Of note in this schedule:
· The Sun are on the road first two games and three of first four to start. At home 4 of the last 5
· Home and home with defending BC champion VI Raiders Aug 9/16
· Sun are in “top tier” of the conference which sees them play the top two teams from 2013 (VI Raiders and Langley Rams) 3x each
· 3 of 5 home games are Saturday night at 7PM.
· Sunday afternoon game times are 1PM (2PM in past seasons)
Kris Stevens Returns to Sun
The Okanagan Sun have added a physical presence to the defensive line and potentially the fullback position. But this older (22 year old as of August) is familiar to the Sun as this is his second go around with the club. Kris Stevens (Churchill High School, Winnipeg) was with the club the last half of 2012. The 6’, 245 pound bruiser returns to the Sun after spending last season with the Manitoba Bisons.
Stevens on his decision to return to the Sun for his last season of junior eligibility;
“I was with the Bisons last year but when I decided I wasn’t going to school this year it was an easy choice to come back to the Okanagan. I liked it a lot there last time and things are looking really good with coach Beatty there, he has things in the right direction…so like I said it was a real easy decision where I wanted to be for my last year of football.
“I was a bit on and off (the fence) about playing this year but I have been watching coach Beatty’s off season weight training with the guys and we’ve been texting back and forth. When someone is talking to me about weight training, he gets my attention pretty quick.”
Stevens was on Shane Beatty’s radar last season, and while he was unable to get him on the roster then, he is ecstatic about the “edge” the Winnipeger brings to the club now.
“The kid is a beast, he is a real mean, physical player on the field. That’s what you want defensively, someone who will intimidate the opposition and that’s what he brings. The rest of the guys will feed off his attitude.”
Receiver added to roster
An already deep Sun receiver core added a big body speedster to the group as Hunter Verhulst (Calgary, Bishop Grandin) has committed to the club.
The soon to be 21 year old sat out last season after playing with the Calgary Colts of the Prairie Football Conference in 2012. The 6’3, 200 pounder is expected to see time at receiver as well as competing for the starting place kicker spot.
Beatty showed little concern that Verhulst sat out last season due to a leg injury suffered late in 2012. Beatty feels the Calgary product can be in impact player for the Sun and he seemed especially excited about what Verhulst can bring to the kicking game.
“Hunter can be an impact guy for us. He can fly, really stretch out the defence and he’s a big kid too. He has a seriously strong leg, he is a great addition to our kicking game.”
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