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Thunderous Boom

By Ryan Watters, 06/19/24, 7:00AM PDT

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Veteran linebacker Stephen Smith is back

Photo courtesy of Wanda Harron Photography

The CJFL Defensive Player of the Year has been a dominate force and will be looking to do even more damage in 2024.

Linebacker Stephen Smith of the Regina Thunder led the Prairie Conference with 42 tackles last year and compiled 30 assisted stops, one sack, and one blocked kick.  However personal stats don’t mean much to him as he is the ultimate “team guy” and enters his last year wanting to lead his team back to the Canadian Bowl.  Since his arrival four years ago the Thunder defence has been one of the most consistent and solid across the CJFL.

He says his biggest strength since becoming a member of the Thunder has been the coaching staff.  He enjoys the process of learning new plays and techniques with his teammates and then being able to implement them into games. He says there's nothing like putting into action what you’ve learned and seeing it pay off on the field.

Other than of course winning a Canadian Bowl title in his final season, Smith says his goal is to keep the Thunder legacy strong and show that rural kids like himself have a shot at being part of something special. If he can inspire the next generation of looked-over rural athletes along the way, that's a massive win in his eyes.
He has played in several memorable games over the course of his CJFL career but the one that stands out the most is the 2022 Prairie Conference championship. The feeling of a complete team win is something he’ll never forget as the Thunder beat their rivals the Saskatoon Hilltops 39-21 to win the right to host the Canadian Bowl.

Being in the CJFL for the past four years and being one of the focal points of the Thunder defence, he has been a part of some important individual plays, but his favourite happened when he was just a spectator.  It came three years ago playing Saskatoon at Mosaic Stadium and receiver Rylan Sokul caught a deep ball down the sidelines right in front of the Thunder bench which turned into the game winning drive. He remembers the feeling on the sidelines, the eruption from the whole team and the fans. 

Smith begins his final CJFL season when he and his teammates open the new campaign on the road in Winnipeg on August 11th against the Rifles.

Stephen Smith is a CJFL Player to Watch in 2024.