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Off-Season Forecast: Winnipeg Rifles

07/12/2019, 3:45pm PDT
By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

Ready to challenge in 2019

The Winnipeg Rifles again last season finished fourth in the Prairie Conference and were forced to travel to Saskatoon to face the Hilltops in a post season semi-final.

Overall the Rifles finished 3-5 despite only scoring an average of 19.7 points a game.  With another year of experience under their belt the Rifles are looking for bigger things here in 2019.  They will open the season against the five-time champion Hilltops on August 18th at home.

Key Grads:

DB Andrew Ricard departs after an outstanding season last year with 23 tackles, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions.

LB Donovan Hillary was a beast for the Rifles last season.  He had a team high 31 tackles along with a sack and a half, forced a fumble and recovered one for a touchdown.

OL Brody Jones will be a big loss for the Rifles on the offensive line in a Conference that prides itself on a running attack.

What They Need:

The Rifles would like to see more depth at the quarterback position.  They really like their starter Riley Naujoks however a viable back-up is something they are searching for when camp rolls around.   Head coach Geordie Wilson believes this is the best team they have had with real competition at every position.

Counting On:

QB Riley Naujoks:  With another year of experience the Rifles are hoping for big things from their pivot.  Last season he threw for 667 yards on 53 competitions and had seven  touchdowns.

LB Cole Sneesby: He attended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers camp and collected a defensive tackle in a pre-season game against the Edmonton Eskimos.  Last year he had 23 tackles, a sack and a half and recovered a fumble.

DB Troy Wilson: He also attended Bomber camp and dressed from the pre-season game against the Eskimos.  He finished with a defensive tackle.    Last year with the Rifles he played in all eight games, made nine tackles, had a sack and forced a fumble.

RB Brandon Urcioluli: He was part of the Bombers’ camp as well and got two carries during the pre-season game with the Esks.    During the regular campaign last year he carried 54 times for 267 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

The Rifles have trained hard all winter, had a great spring camp and knocked off Augsburg College; a NCAA Division 3 school in a spring tune up game.  They embrace the opportunity to open the season against the five-time National Champion Saskatoon Hilltops August 18. They respect them, but they do not fear them and will be ready and prepared.

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