Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
Former Saskatoon Hilltop running back Adam Machart (pictured) highlights the 2021 East-West Bowl roster recognitions announced Wednesday by the Canadian Football League.
The roster recognitions celebrate the next generation of top Canadian football prospects, with eight former CJFL standouts identified for the 2022 CFL Draft, following completion of the 2021 Draft on May 4.
For the next year, players from both squads will vie for coveted spots on the CFL Scouting Bureau Top 20 Prospects List – published in the fall, winter and spring – before showcasing their skills through virtual or in-person regional and national combines in advance of the Draft this time next year.
Machart earned 2019 Canada West Player of the Year and First Team All-Canadian honours and was a finalist for the Hec Crighton Trophy as U SPORTS regular season MVP.
The former CJFL players on the East-West Bowl rosters are:
James Parker of the VI Raiders
Brycen Mayoh of the VI Raiders and Westshore Rebels
Dawson Davis of Valley Huskers
Jayden Dalke of the Edmonton Wildcats
David Solie of the Saskatoon Hilltops
Adam Machart of the Saskatoon Hilltops
Donovan Burgmaier of the Edmonton Huskies
Ted Kubongo of the Calgary Colts
Good luck to all eight CJFLers.
The 2021 CFL Draft is scheduled for Tuesday and BC Lions receiver Shaq Johnson knows all about the Draft after going through the experience in 2016.
Prior to the Draft, Johnson played for the London Beefeaters in 2015 helping them back to the post season with 30 receptions for 606 yards and eight touchdowns that year. He also returned 15 kicks for 299 yards including a 91 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
From there Johnson entered the CFL Draft in 2016 and heard his name called in the fourth round, 32nd overall by the BC Lions. Just a few short months later, he made his pro debut on October 14, 2016 in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers.
After being used sparingly in his rookie campaign, in 2017 Johnson exploded onto the scene starting all 18 games for the Lions making 30 receptions for 521 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was the Lions nominee for the CFL Most Outstanding Canadian Award. Then in 2019 Johnson had a career-year finishing with 39 receptions for 597 yards and two majors.
Back in January he signed an extension to stay in Vancouver with the Lions for the upcoming 2021 season.
He talks with Ryan Watters to reminisce about his CFL Draft experience in 2016.
The CJFL has been in existence since 1908 taking on many forms, but always keeping the core values of providing young people an opportunity to play highly competitive post-high school football across the country. Several of the current 18 CJFL franchises are able to boast a rich history as part of the CJFL for many, many years.
So relatively speaking the GTA Grizzlies are still one of the youngest franchises, playing in the Ontario Conference. They first became a full CJFL member in 2014, calling the largest city in Canada home. When they first began play they would call Father Henry Carr Catholic Secondary school home before moving to their current location of Etobicoke Centennial Stadium.
Heading into just their third season in 2017 the team rebranded to their current blue and white colours to reflect their growing partnership with the Toronto Argonauts. That season they also launched their new logo that we know them by today.
In their first six seasons they have qualified for the CJFL playoffs in the last three straight years, but are still looking for that first playoff win.
Speaking of the playoffs, one of the most exciting moments in Grizzlies team history came on October 13, 2018 with a playoff berth on the line. The Grizzlies were hosting the Ottawa Sooners and needed to beat them by at least 19 points to advance to the post-season. The stadium was packed with high school students cheering on their Grizzlies to an impressive 39-0 shutout punching their ticket to the playoffs.
Despite their youth, the Grizzlies program has already produced some talented players including Michael Sanelli and Kelvin Muamba who are in the CFL playing for the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders respectively. Last season’s (2019) CJFL Rookie of the Year Harvey Mafuta could be joining them in the CFL ranks in the not too distant future.
Former head coach Mark Houlder is more proof that the Grizzlies recipe for success is working. Houlder was recently elected to the CJFL Executive Board to lend his experience and expertise to move the league forward in various paths. He was the head coach of the Grizzlies in 2019, but with this elected position, he has had to step down from coaching but will no doubt assist the club in their search to fill the vacant role.
The Grizzlies find themselves in a unique position in the Toronto area, and have just now started to make a name for themselves. Sure they are in the most populated area in the country, but there are several Universities and other opportunities for young football players coming out of high school to continue to play. With that said and their most recent success, the Grizzlies will no doubt start attracting more players once they are able to get back to normal recruiting and practicing following the pandemic.
The club has the right people in place to grow their team into a consistently competitive franchise once football resumes.
Quick Grizzlies Facts:
Conference – Ontario Conference
Location – 56 Centennial Park Rd, Etobicoke ON
Grizzlies President – Karen Escoffery
Head Coach – An announcement is coming soon
Stadium - Etobicoke Centennial Stadium
Motto – Keeping the Dream Alive
Social Handle – @gtagrizzlies / @gtagrizzlies_
Primary Colours – Dark & light blue, and white