Langley Rams @ London Beefeaters – Saturday December 4, 12:00pm EST
For the first time since 2009 the Canadian Bowl will be won by a team outside of the Prairie Conference when the Rams and Beefeaters collide on Saturday afternoon.
The BC Cullen Cup champion Rams are back in the national final for the third straight season and sixth time overall. They are 0-5 in this championship including a 35-18 set back the last time they were in Ontario in 1992 in Ottawa.
This season the Rams defence was arguably the best ever in CJFL history. They allowed an average of just four points a game during the regular season and in their three playoff victories to this point they have given up an average of eight. They are a fast, physical defence loaded with talent including five Conference All-Stars, two All-Canadians and the Conference Defensive Player of the Year; defensive back Kyle Clarot.
Over on the offensive side the Rams have been clicking in the last few weeks led by quarterback Michael Calvert. His favourite target has been the CJFL Rookie of the Year Daniel Kubongo who led the league with an average of 31.7 yards a catch. The Rams run game has also been impressive running behind five big bodies led by All-Canadian Nikos Lazarakis. Running back Derek Best and Joel Klaassen can chew yards in a hurry and pushing the defence on their heels. Best is coming off a brilliant game in the CJFL National Semi-Final and was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
The Ontario Conference champion Beefeaters are in the Canadian Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
They won their second straight Conference championship with a road win over the St. Clair Fratmen in dramatic fashion scoring 15 points in the final 1:59. In 2019 they may have fallen in the CJFL National Semi-Final game, but it gave them a taste of what to expect on the national stage. The Beefeaters are brimming with confidence as they make their way into their first ever Canadian Bowl.
Their offence is laced with veteran leadership behind quarterback Clarke McCallum. The pivot struck for 15 touchdown passes, 1380 yards and completed 55% of his passes in the regular season. He’s a dual threat quarterback using his legs to keep the defences guessing. When he does drop back to pass he has three dangerous weapons to spread the ball to including Mitchel Spence, Spencer Foster and Connor Depodesta.
The running attack is led by a stellar veteran and shifty rookie. Taz Bell has been in big games before and will relish the opportunity to play on Saturday afternoon in his first Canadian Bowl. He’s paired with the Ontario Conference Offensive Rookie of the Year in Geoffrey Clubine who led the Beefeaters with 461 yards and four touchdowns during the regular campaign.
The defence has played a major factor in the Beefeaters success in 2021. They have been led by All-Canadian Jordan Fletcher who was also named the Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Four players were named Conference All-Stars including two at the linebacker position. All-Canadian Codey McRoberts and Tyler Thompson led the Beefeaters with a combined six interceptions and 4.5 sacks during the regular season and will no doubt make an impact in the Canadian Bowl.
One guarantee on Saturday is the Canadian Bowl will be a well-coached game. Both head coaches have been here before and have plenty of experience under their belt. For the Rams Cory Philpot was part of the coaching staff in 2018 and 2019 when they played in the final. He is a former BC Lion, winning a Grey Cup in 1994. On the other side of the field Gavin Lake of the Beefeaters was part of the VI Raiders coaching staff in 2008 and 2013 when they played for the national crown. He has also won a Grey Cup as part of the 2017 Toronto Argonauts coaching staff.
This will be the first CJFL national championship game ever to be played in the month of December and believe it or not the weather shouldn’t play too much of a factor other than the cold. Environment Canada is calling for a mix of sun and cloud with a high of three degrees and only a 30% chance of participation.
Head to Head:
Records: Rams 7-1 (3-0 in playoffs) – Beefeaters 6-2 (2-0 in playoffs)
Points For: Rams 182 (63 in playoffs) – Beefeaters 294 (39 in playoffs)
Points Allowed: Rams 32 (26 in playoffs) – Beefeaters 116 (14 in playoffs)
Starting Quarterbacks: Michael Calvert – 19 of 42 (45%) for 417 yards and 1 touchdown (Rams) – Clarke McCallum – 82 of 149 (55%) for 1380 yards and 15 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Leading Rushers: Joel Klaassen – 91 carries for 643 yards and 2 touchdowns (Rams) – Geoffrey Clubine – 52 carries for 461 yards and 4 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Leading Receivers: Daniel Kubongo – 20 receptions for 634 yards and 5 touchdowns (Rams) - Michel Spence – 21 receptions for 430 yards and 8 touchdowns (Beefeaters)
Leading Tacklers: Colten Dejong – 23 tackles (Rams) – Jordan Fletcher – 20 tackles (Beefeaters)
Turnovers: Rams +16 – Beefeaters +21
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