The Edmonton Wildcats missed the CJFL post season in 2018 finishing with a pair of wins with a predominately young team. With a season or two now under their belts the Wildcats and head coach Darcy Park are ready to get back to the playoffs. They open the season on August 18th when they host the Regina Thunder.
On the offensive side the Wildcats have brought in an offensive assistant coach Blake Dermott who has a long history in the Edmonton area. He completed his successful 14 year CFL career and has coached at almost every level. He was named a CFL All-Star in 1989 and 1994 and won two Grey Cups. The Wildcats are very excited to have someone with his experience and wealth of football knowledge and are hoping he has an immediate impact.
DB Jayden Dalke – He was the heart and soul of the Wildcats and a tremendous leader. He again led the Wildcats in 2018 with 44 solo tackles, recovered four fumbles and had a pair of interceptions.
WR Brandon Rebnord – He was a calm presence of the Wildcats receiving corp and was usually targeted when his club needed a big play. He made 12 receptions last year for 129 yards, averaging 10.8 yards a catch.
QB Justin Swedish – He got the majority of the starts for the Wildcats last season completing 46% of his passes. He completed 73 attempts for 1145 yards and had six touchdowns passes.
What They Need:
The Wildcats ground attack is a must in 2019. It’s turning into a very exciting position for the coaching staff this offseason. They have brought in some very talented players who all should have an impact despite being on the younger side. It’ll be up the offensive line to give them the opportunities to make plays.
Linebacker Chopper Hippe was named the PFC Rookie of the Year and will be looked upon to be even better in his sophomore season. He made 34 tackles last year with two sacks, had an interception and blocked a kick.
One of the fifth year players that will have to fill the shoes of a graduated Dalke is defensive back Matt Zarowny. He will need to lead by example after making nine tackles a year ago.
Defensive lineman Ronny Bakehe enters his third season and must make an impact on the defensive side. Last season he made seven tackles but didn’t record a sack. The coaching staff is hoping that changes in 2019.
The Wildcats are excited to be proceeding with a long awaited renovation to their facilities. After a generous donation they be renovating and adding on to their facility which will make it one of the top facilities in the country with a new spacious weight room and additional meeting rooms. They will also add updated locker rooms and a therapy room to go along with a general area to host a variety of community events. The Wildcats believe this will set them up for the next 70 years.
For some this coming Saturday is the biggest day of their young lives, as the CJFL presents its National Signing Day.
The day is earmarked every year on June 1st, the day in which players can finally sign with a CJFL club. When a player signs he is essentially signing for his entire junior football career as the player then becomes the property of that team.
Some players have attended multiple Spring Camps to get an idea of their best fit. So many considerations are made before signing with a CJFL club; location, team support, roster depth, coaching staff, scholarship program, etc all weighs in on a player’s decision.
National Signing Day is not only exciting for the players, but the coaches as well. Their ideas, hopes and hard work will finally come to fruition as they start to fill their roster spots.
Following Saturday coaches can continue to recruit and sign a player immediately if he’s a good fit for their team. That said the bulk of the players ready to play in the CJFL will sign on Saturday.
Once players sign on the dotted line, coaches can begin developing their schemes and systems around their potential starters. They can also begin preparing for their Main Camp along with Week 1 of the regular season.
All three Conferences and 18 CJFL teams will participate on Saturday, signing players to their 2019 roster.
Fans can keep up to date with CJFL National Signing Day on social media with #CJFLSigning as teams will be posting once a player signs.
The Ottawa Sooners will have a new man at the helm this season as they have announced former star quarterback Wayne Jacobs as their new head coach.
Jacobs enjoyed a very successful playing career which included an outstanding stint quarterbacking the Sooners and was highly recruited across North America. He left Ottawa for Texas to quarterback for the University of Texas-El Paso Miners (NCAA Divison 1). After UTEP, he returned home to be the starting quarterback for the University of Ottawa GeeGees.
Following his collegiate career, Jacobs travelled to Europe to play professionally. He played for the Lyon Falcons (France 1st Division), Landquart/Calanda Broncos (Euro and Swiss Premier League), and the Oslo Vikings (Norwegian 1st Division and Euro Champions League).
Since retiring from his playing days Jacobs has been coaching quarterbacks for over 20 years. His coaching career started at the tender age of 17 at the city and high school level. When his playing career took him to Europe, Jacobs brought his extensive coaching knowledge and passion with him to the European leagues. He served as the offensive coordinator and then head coach of the Oslo Under-19 Team. He also spent time working with the quarterbacks for the Swiss Junior National Team.
Once returning to Canada, Jacobs expanded his resume serving as the quarterback coach for the University of Ottawa GeeGees, the CEGEP d’Outaouais Griffons, the head coach of the Ottawa Invaders, and the passing game coordinator and quarterback coach for the Saint Mary’s University Huskies.
He is currently coaching in Europe, but will return to the Sooners in plenty of time before they open the season August 17th when they travel to Hamilton to take on the Hurricanes.