Saturday afternoon the Nation’s Capital will be rockin’ when the Ottawa Sooners host the Winnipeg Rifles in a CJFL Interconference history making game.
It’s the first meeting ever between these two teams and for the Rifles the first time they have ever faced a team from Ontario.
This season marks the 25th Anniversary of the last Sooners Canadian Bowl title, which came in 1992 when they beat the Surrey Rams 35-18. Saturday that team and its players will be celebrated prior to the game with the Rifles. The celebration is just part of the festivities set to kick off the season for both teams.
The Sooners have faced a team from the Prairie Conference three times since 1982, with the most recent being the 1995 Canadian Bowl against the Regina Rams (now Thunder). Not only will they face the Rifles this Saturday, but will fly to Saskatoon to take on the Hilltops on August 26 as well.
Geoff Graham is the Sooners head coach and he says the players aren’t the only ones excited for this history making game, “Ottawa in general is excited. We are a big football town and we are going to have a tailgate honouring the last Sooners team to win the National Championship, the stands will be full and we are VERY excited. Although it changes the dynamics playing two Interconference games, it affects standings, we are really excited to have Winnipeg come to town and then obviously hop on a charter and head out to Saskatoon. I think that was a major draw for the players that are coming in this year; it’s a big deal so we’re excited.”
As for the Rifles, this is their second CJFL Interconference game in as many years. Last season they flew to Vancouver and bused to Chilliwack to face the Valley Huskers of the BC Conference. However facing a team from the Ontario Conference is new territory and they are looking forward to it.
“Yes it’s pretty exciting,” says head coach Geordie Wilson. “Our guys are jacked up about it, getting to go to the Nation’s capital. They (Sooners) have some special players and we’ll have our hands full, but we’re excited to get going. To be honest I think our guys are more excited about this game compared to last year and going to BC…the kids are fired up.”
This game on Saturday also marks the beginning of the season for both teams who are looking to get out of the gate quickly in an eight game schedule.
Kickoff on Saturday from Keith Harris Field in Ottawa is set for 7:00pm EST.