Four former CJFL players heard their name called on Sunday at the CFL Draft.
The Toronto Argos opened the third round of the draft by selecting former Langley Ram/VI Raider and defensive lineman Evan Foster with the 19th overall pick. Foster lasted played in the CJFL in 2013 with the Rams setting a new CJFL single season record with 16 sacks to compliment his 15 tackles, 13 assisted stops and 70 yard pick-six. He’ll join former Rams teammate, receiver Malcolm Williams in Toronto.
In the sixth round with the 45th pick, the Montreal Alouettes selected former Ottawa Sooners receiver Malcolm Carter. Last season in the OFC, Carter hauled in 20 receptions for 474 yards, averaging 23.7 yards a catch and scored eight touchdowns.
In the last stages of the seventh round, the Calgary Stampeders took former VI Raiders/Edmonton Wildcats defensive back Adam Laurensse with the 61st pick. He played for the Wildcats during the 2013 season before making the jump to the University of Calgary Dinos.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers used their final pick in the eighth round to select former Edmonton Wildcats receiver Tylor Henry. He played a pair of seasons in the CJFL in 2011 & 2012.
With their final pick in the eighth round the Stamps stayed local and selected receiver Richard Sindani of the Calgary Colts with the 70th pick. Last season for the Colts he made 38 receptions for 487 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
All four players will continue to train in preparation of their new team’s rookie and main camps in the next few weeks.
It’s a busy weekend across the CJFL with eight teams hosting their 2017 Spring Camps including last season’s Canadian Bowl combatants, the Saskatoon Hilltops and Westshore Rebels.
Spring Camp is an opportunity for the coaching staff of each team to see the players they have recruited as well as keeping a close eye on the returning players and their development.
Joining the Hilltops and Rebels this weekend are Prairie teams the Calgary Colts, Edmonton Huskies and Edmonton Wildcats. Over in the BC Conference the Langley Rams, VI Raiders and Valley Huskers will also hold their camps.
When it comes to the Raiders and Huskers, both enter their first Spring Camp under a new head coach. The Raiders brought in Doug Hocking, a long time defensive coordinator when the Raiders dominated the BC Conference under head coach Matt Snoop Blokker.
Hocking says 90 players will be in camp this weekend and says the “main goal of spring camp is to evaluate the players we have recruited and our retuning players. Also to showcase our program to the players we recruited and would like to play here. We need to understand that our program is also being recruited and evaluated.”
They will showcase their program with the greatest Raider ever to play in Nanaimo as Andrew Harris is scheduled to be a guest coach along with Matt Pfeifer.
Following camp Hocking would “like to know that we have addressed some recruiting needs and pin point what holes we still need to know. I'd like to see what kinda of off season conditioning our players have done and their putting the work in that they need.”
Meanwhile the Huskers will have Bob Reist leading camp, his first as a head coach. They are expecting 70-80 players, which includes their veterans.
Like the Raiders the Huskers have a number of big names attending as guest coaches. University of Manitoba offensive coordinator Blair Atkinson will assist, along with Eddie Steele from the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, retired CFLer Cory Huclack and CJFL sack master Evan Foster , who has high hopes entering his first CFL Draft on Sunday.
Coach Reist says, “Our main goal is to evaluate the athletes we've brought in. We have a ton of new guys coming in and our goal is to provide a camp that puts our athletes in competitive situations where we can evaluate their skill set.”
He adds, “By the completion of spring camp we will have a better idea of how our roster looks. We want to see the competitive balance of our team and assess our strengths and weaknesses moving forward.”
In Edmonton, the Wildcats actually opened their Spring Camp on Thursday. Head Coach Darcy Park believes they have had a very strong offseason recruiting players and has limited the number of attendees to 100 including veterans to “maximize reps for all returning players as well as first year Wildcats giving the coaches a real sense of where we are heading into main camp.”
The Wildcats have struggled the past couple of seasons, something Coach Park is well aware of, “After two disappointing seasons in the win/loss column the most important thing we are trying to establish is returning to our roots as an organization. For the longest time we were known as a physical team that had an emphasis on a balanced attack on offense and aggressive defense and special teams.”
With such a rich tradition of developing players for the next level, the Wildcats will be fortunate to have a number of alumni return as guest coaches including Taylor Inglis, Ryan King, Neil King, Jeff Hecht, Andrew Johnson, Rory Connop, along with former CJFL/CIS All-Canadians Ryan Migadel, Logan Trachuk, Scott Ledieu, Brent Krawchuk, Cale Inglis and Justin McEvoy.
At the conclusion of camp Coach Park wants to know, “That we have a room full of competitors. Coaches will coach but we want players who are willing to get in the mix and compete all over the field.”
The defending BC Conference champion Westshore Rebels are also under the leadership of a new head coach as Charly Cardilicchia takes over for the departed JC Boice. The Rebels open camp this weekend and Cardilicchia says, “We are coming off of a winning season and are expected to do well. I am really excited about some of our new prospects. We have had players move up to play in the CIS and there are big shoes to fill. I have spent a lot of time reviewing player footage, and visiting cities across Canada, to find the right fit for our team. I am excited to see who brings their A game. You never know who is going to surprise you.”
Rebels’ alumni Aaron Crawford, Quinn Van Gylswyk and Greg Morris will all return to act as guest coaches. As will Dexter Janke who played one season with the Okanagan Sun. All four guest coaches are currently playing in the CFL.
Photo courtesy of Kirby Sports Photography
The Langley Rams ground game over the last number of years has been lethal with the likes of Nathan Lund and Joe Carter.
The offensive line has always had big, talented bodies blowing open holes in the opposing defences and in 2016 it was no different.
Not only does Yanda Yano have one of the best names across the CJFL, he is one of the biggest reasons the Rams collected seven yards a carry and over 173 yards a game last season.
After spending the 2014 campaign with the VI Raiders, Yano sat out 2015 to rehab and to be eligible to play closer to home with the Rams in 2016. The Rams offered Yano a “great group of players and coaches” to play with and says “we can definitely do great things if we’re all focused.”
The 2016 season didn’t end how Yano and the Rams wanted, losing in a heartbreaker to the Westshore Rebels in the BC Conference semi-final. The loss left “a very bad taste in our mouths so I feel like we have some unfinished business.”
This offseason he’s working on strength and his fitness, something he wasn’t able to do the previous offseason due to ACL rehab. This year he’s really putting the work in getting stronger, lifting 315lbs and getting ready for another gruelling season on the offensive line.
In just two seasons of CJFL football, Yano has caught the eye of a number of U Sports schools including the University of Ottawa, St. FX, Acadia, St. Mary’s and the University of Windsor. That said he is primed for another season with the Rams hoping to develop even more following the 2017 season. He says after the CJFL he hopes to play at the U Sport level which could open a path the CFL.
When the Port Coquitlam native is not on the practice field he says, “I like to watch game film whether it be of myself or of higher level o-linemen and see how I can potentially emulate what they do.”
As he’s preparing to enter his fourth season, Yanda Yano of the Langley Rams is a CJFL Weekend Warrior.