Photo courtesy of Jason Harding
The Okanagan Sun finished first in the BC Conference in 2018 and had home field advantage throughout the playoffs. However the Langley Rams caught fire at the right time and beat up the Sun at the Apple Bowl to capture the Cullen Cup.
It’s been a long offseason and the Sun have been retooling for another run at the BC title and an opportunity to host the 2019 Canadian Bowl.
The biggest and most visible change is at the top as former CJFLer and CFLer Jamie Boreham takes over as head coach after Ben McCauley stepped down following last season. This is Boreham’s first head coaching role in the CJFL after playing for the Abbotsford Airforce. He also spent nine seasons in the CFL with Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Toronto, winning the 2007 Grey Cup with the Riders.
LB Cody Thompson was the anchor of a stifling defence a year ago making 10 solo tackles, had a sack and a knockdown.
QB/DB Keith Zyla is simply an athlete able to play multiple positions. In his time with the Sun he was the starting quarterback, a receiver and played in the secondary. Last year after injuries to the starting and backup quarterbacks Zyla was thrust back into action. He completed 20 passes for 285 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
DB Tye Kitzman was rock solid in the Sun secondary winning back to back All-Star awards and seems to always be among the team leaders in tackles. Last season he had 20 stops, blocked a kick, had five knockdowns, recovered two fumbles and had four interceptions including a 56 yard pick-six.
What They Need:
The Sun are in need of depth at every position. With a new head coach and staff they will evaluate all their options and try to fill their positions accordingly.
DB Conor Richard returns after an All-Canadian season a year ago. He has turned into one of the best defensive players in the CJFL with a nose for the ball. Last season he had an incredible six blocked kicks, six sacks, 20 solo tackles and a defensive touchdown.
DB Tyler Going had a breakout season last year and the Sun are hoping for more this year. He led the Sun with 31 tackles and six interceptions including a 54 yard pick-six. He also recorded two sacks, three knockdowns, two forced fumbles and had a pair of fumble recoveries.
QB Alex Douglas is new to the Sun from Toronto. He is a veteran player that will fight in main camp to get the starting position under centre. He is a former highly sought after recruit signing with the University of Guelph. Coach Boreham says they are expecting big things from him, but obviously his success will rely heavily on the offensive line led by tackle Dan Townsend.
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.