The Okanagan Sun became a member of the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) in the BC Conference for the first time in 1981. In their 39 years of play, they have been the most consistent dominate team in British Columbia.
The Sun have recorded the most wins all-time and have a record of 297-66-9 for a winning percentage of 818%.
They have played out of the Apple Bowl since their inception and have created a home field that is difficult for visiting teams to win in. Since 1984, they have a home record of 143-24-4. The natural grass surface at the Apple Bowl is the last of its kind in the CJFL as all over 17 teams now play on turf.
Over the years the Sun have finished in first place in the BC Conference a total of 20 times. They also have 11 consecutive first places finishes from 1995-2005. They have made the BC Conference playoffs a record 38 consecutive years and have an overall playoff record of 45-24. They have won 15 Cullen Cup championships with their first coming in 1983. Between 1995 and 2002, they won eight consecutive BC titles.
The Sun have played in eight Canadian Bowls, winning two (1988 & 2000). They defeated the Burlington Jr Tiger Cats for their first and the Saskatoon Hilltops twelve years later for their second. They were the first team in CJFL history to play in five consecutive Canadian Bowl championships from 1997-2001.
Five players and two coaches have been honoured at the national level. Running back Ron Arnold was named the CJFL Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year in 1997, running back Terrance Huston in 1998 and quarterback Zack Silverman in 2000.
On the other side of the ball defensive lineman Steven Doege was named the CJFL’s Top Defender in 2011.
In 2004 Duncan Acres was honoured as the CJFL Past Commissioner Community Service Award winner.
A pair of Sun coaches have won the CJFL Gordon Currie Coach of the Year Award; Pete McCall in 2010 and Shane Beatty was twice honoured in 2014 and 2015.
Several former Sun players have moved onto the CFL ranks over the years:
Saleem Borhot – Edmonton Eskimos
Jay Christensen – BC Lions / Calgary Stampeders / Edmonton Eskimos / Ottawa Red Blacks
Nate Coehoorn – Edmonton Eskimos
Mike Crumb – BC Lions / Toronto Argonauts
Adam Eckert– Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Moe Elewonibi – BC Lions / Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Chad Folk – Toronto Argonauts
Ryan Folk – Montreal Alouettes
James Green – Toronto Argonauts
Dexter Janke – Calgary Stampeders / Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Mike Marasco – BC Lions
Spencer McLennan – BC Lions / Montreal Alouettes / Winnipeg Blue Bombers
David Pitcher – Saskatchewan Roughriders
Stefen Reid – Montreal Alouettes
Dounia Whitehouse – Edmonton Eskimos
Spencer Wilson – Calgary Stampeders
Quick Sun Facts:
Conference – BC Conference
Location – 1555 Burtch Rd. Kelowna
Sun President – Parker Evans
Head Coach – Jamie Boreham
Stadium – Apple Bowl
Social Handle - @okanagansun / @okanagan_sun
Motto – #sunwin #sunriseup
Primary Colours – Brown and Orange
Linebackers Week in the CJFL wraps up.
Arguably the most exciting play on the defensive side of the ball is a quarterback sack. Knocking the pivot down behind the line a scrimmage for a big loss will fire up the rest of the team and the crowd just as a touchdown does on the offensive side.
More often than not defensive linemen are the ones recording a sack; however linebackers get their dues as well. A linebacker can read the play, see a gap then use their pure athleticism to pass rush into the backfield to bring down the quarterback.
The history of the term “sack” has an interesting path. It first became popular by Hall of Famer Deacon Jones in the 1960s who felt that a sack devastated the offence in the same way that a city was devastated when it was sacked. However according to former NFL head coach Marv Levy it was Hall of Fame head coach George Allen in the early 1970s who coined the term saying “Before we play those Dallas Cowboys, we’re going to take Craig Morton (Cowboys quarterback) salt and pour him into a sack.”
Prior to the term sack, it was called “dumping the passer.” A player didn’t get credit for tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage until 1982. A researcher of the Pro Football Researches Association estimates that if sacks were credited in the 1960s, Deacon would have recorded 173.5 sacks in this amazing career.
Throughout CJFL history there have been some linebackers with outstanding career sack numbers and perhaps no one did it better than Dale Solie of the Saskatoon Hilltops. From 1985-1989 Solie was a beast, hitting gaps and using his speed to hurry the quarterback. He still holds the CJFL career record for most sacks by a linebacker in CJFL history with 36.5. As a matter of fact there is only one player in CJFL history will more sacks and he’s a defensive lineman. Steven Doege of the Okanagan Sun collected 43.5 from 2009-2012. The gap between Solie and the second linebacker on the list is eye-opening.
The top 5 all-time CJFL career leaders in sacks from the LINEBACKER position are:
1 – Dale Solie – 36.5 for the Saskatoon Hilltops (PFC) from 1985-1989
2 – Randy Duech – 18.5 for the Abbotsford Airforce (BCFC) from 1988-1991
3 – Jermaine Haley – 17 for the Okanagan Sun and Surrey Rams (BCFC) from 1992-1995
4 – Adam Merino – 17 for Victoria Payless and Vancouver Island Sharks (BCFC) from 1993-1996
5 – Mason Beekhuis (pictured) – 14.5 for the Windsor AKO Fratmen (OFC) from 2010-2013
Photo - Jadyn Pingue was a CJFL All-Canadian linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops in 2019. Credit: Louis Christ Photography
Linebackers Week in the CJFL continues.
The buddy system is defined as a cooperative arrangement whereby individuals are paired or teamed up and assume responsibility for one another’s instruction, productivity, welfare or safety.
The defence on the football field is very similar especially when it comes to tackling, sure it’s good to do it on your own, but it’s more team bonding when you can tackle with a buddy. It’s also more reliable and next to impossible for a ball carrier to slide out of a pair of tacklers.
Assisted tackling is a huge part of the game and the defensive system. Players are taught to swarm to the ball and in some cases, just hang onto the offensive player and wait for help.
When looking at the top 5 all-time leaders in assisted tackles in a single season it’s interesting to note that four of the five totals on leader board are either from the 1982 or 1983 season.
1 – Garry Handley – 65 for the Okanagan Sun (BCFC) in 1982
2 – Dave Nagy – 62 for the Okanagan Sun (BCFC) in 1982
3 – Chad Dreidger – 62 for the Abbotsford Airforce (BCFC) in 1993
4 – Garry Handley – 61 for the Okanagan Sun (BCFC) in 1983
5 – Rod Arquette – 61 for the London Beefeaters (OFC) in 1983
Each day this week a new category will featured for Linebackers Week.