As the calendar closes the 2022 chapter, a handful of CJFL teams look back and remember one of the moments that defined their season. Happy New Year from our CJFL family.
Okanagan Sun: winning the 2022 Canadian Bowl brought the CJFL tile back to Kelowna for the first time in 22 seasons. The impressive come-from-behind 21-19 victory in Regina turned out to be one of the most exciting Canadian Bowls in CJFL history. It was the first franchise win for the Sun in the Prairies and second straight title for the BC Conference while on the road.
Regina Thunder: the Prairie Conference champion Thunder had several exciting moments of 2022 including hosting the Canadian Bowl and they were the recipient of the first Rick Smoke team award showing outstanding community service. However, the true spirit of the Regina community was on display during their Conference semi-final when they hosted the Winnipeg Rifles. After a massive snowstorm Leibel Field was left unattended so players, coaches, parents, and fans had to grab their shovels and snowblowers to clear the field and get it into game ready condition. It was an incredible undertaking, but the teamwork displayed truly defined their 2022 season.
Ottawa Sooners: CJFL football returned to the nation’s capital in 2022 as the Sooners finished third in the Ontario Conference, qualifying for the Canadian Bowl playoffs. One of their favourite moments came in Week 3 of the season when they travelled to Hamilton to face the Hurricanes for the first time since 2019. Their seven-point road win was highlighted by an 85-yard defensive touchdown after a strip sack. That play showed the toughness of their defence which made them a legitimate contender and put them on track for #4 on the CJFL Power Rankings.
Valley Huskers: in Chilliwack the Valley Huskers were a difficult team to play against in 2022 as they finished the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and qualified for the CJFL Canadian Bowl playoffs. Their running attack was outstanding led by the 1000-yard rusher Reece Wyke behind a big, nasty offensive line. Quarterback Josh Janssen was solid and had a career game at the VI Raiders in September where he threw for 416 yards on 26 completions and threw eight touchdown passes. That said, their most memorable moment of the past season was the fact they were able to sweep their closest rivals the Langley Rams for the first time in franchise history with scores of 14-7 and 23-22.
Saskatoon Hilltops: all season long the Saskatoon Hilltops were electrified by CJFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Charles Sawi. On a team that doesn’t often play their rookies, Sawi was an exception at the receiver spot and returning kicks. As a matter of fact, it was one of his exciting returns that is the team’s moment of 2022. Against their provincial rivals, the Regina Thunder on September 10th at SMF Field, Sawi caught a missed field goal and quickly turned the tide with a highlight reel return, sprinting 125-yards the other direction for a touchdown in the rain.
Langley Rams: coming into the 2022 season the Langley Rams were the defending Canadian Bowl champions and were able to collect their “hardware” as the players were presented with their championship rings. On the field in Week 6 of the season receiver Terrel Jones made an incredible catch against the Valley Huskers on a tip on their last drive of the game. The bench and crowd erupted following their play of the year.
Hamilton Hurricanes: even before the team got on the field for the regular season the Hamilton Hurricanes’ players and coaches got an opportunity to stay overnight at Redeemer University in Ancaster Ontario which created a very strong team bond and gave them an identity coming out of training camp.
Winnipeg Rifles: this past season the Winnipeg Rifles made some huge strides with their play on the field. There was no bigger moment for them in 2022 then on August 28 when they hosted and finally beat the Saskatoon Hilltops 19-16. Quarterback Bryson McNeil completed 26 passes for 295 yards and set up kicker Donovan Downing to boot four fields, including two in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Their defence was outstanding and frustrated the Hilltops offence all afternoon.
Kamloops Broncos: on September 17th the Kamloops Broncos hammered the Prince George Kodiaks 47-17 recording their first home win of the season and showed the hometown faithful a glimpse of a very promising future. They were led by a pair of 17-year-olds on both sides of the ball. Defensive back Keagan Curtis finished with an impressive three interceptions while on the offensive side receiver Colton Meikle set a franchise record with 222 yards on five receptions and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Reid Vankoughnett had a career game accounting for six touchdowns, three rushing majors and three TD passes. The Broncos were able to carry that momentum into the following week when they beat the Kodiaks again for a two game winning streak.
Photo courtesy of Kirby Sports Photography
The Langley Rams have a brand-new head coach, and they didn’t have to look far as they have hired former Canadian Bowl quarterback Jordan McCarty.
For the past three seasons McCarty has been the Rams quarterback coach and helped them to the 2021 Canadian Bowl championship, a game he actually played in during the 2014 season.
Following the Canadian Bowl appearance in 2014 when the Rams hosted the Saskatoon Hilltops, McCarty began his coaching career. He was part of the staff at his Alma mater Blaine High School as the quarterback coach and passing coordinator. He then worked as the receiver’s coach and recruiter with the SFU program in the NCAA before returning to the Rams.
“We are very excited to welcome Jordan as he takes over the Rams program and builds on our recent success,” said the Rams Board of Directors.
Taking over the Rams just a season removed from their Canadian Bowl title, expectations are high as the team begins the process of preparing for the 2023 campaign.
The Rams also thanked Cory Philpot for stepping into the head coaching roll for the past two seasons. He led the club to their only Canadian Bowl title in 2021.
A post on the Rams Facebook page stated, “Thank you Coach Cory for all that you have done for the Langley Rams.”
Photo courtesy of Shoot The Breeze
The BC Conference Cullen Cup is set after this weekend's semi-finals in Kelowna and Westshore.
Okanagan Sun 44
Langley Rams 20
The CJFL will have a new Canadian Bowl champion in 2022 after the Okanagan Sun eliminated the Langley Rams on Saturday afternoon in Kelowna.
After a very slow first quarter in which the defences dominated the Sun held a 2-1 lead…the second quarter was much different. The Sun scored three touchdowns in the second frame highlighted by a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kemarr Bishop with just seconds before halftime put the game out of reach.
Quarterback Dominic Britton threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns, all of them to Colby Milleto. He caught five passes in total for 97 yards. The Sun running attack was mostly neutralized by the Rams defence but Aiden Wiberg did scamper into the endzone from a yard out.
Defensively All-Star Kelon Thomas was outstanding recording two sacks and six solo tackles and was consistently putting pressure on the Rams offence. Michael Jourdan had a game high seven tackles and JJ Heaton added another sack.
The Rams season comes to a close after a good fight but ran out of stream. Quarterback Hunter Norman threw three touchdown passes and 169 yards in total. He found Beckham Dickie, Cole Barron and Gabriel Fenelon for touchdown strikes.
On the defence Dawson Morin had a solid game with an interception, fumble recovery and five solo tackles.
The Sun will now host the Westhore Rebels in the BC Conference Cullen Cup title game this weekend with the winner moving onto the CJFL National Semi-Final game in Ontario.
Westshore Rebels 34
Valley Huskers 0
The Westshore Rebels are back in the Cullen Cup for the first time since 2019 after their defence pitched a playoff shutout on Sunday, ending the Valley Huskers season.
The Rebels offence scored 10-points in the first quarter and the defence did the rest. They forced four turnovers and held the Huskers offence to 167 yards. Isaiah Cardilicchia picked off two passes while Cole Bunting intercepted another and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Omari Hastings tallied three of the Rebels sacks and Nehemiah Forde-Browne added another two.
Quarterback Te Jessie led the offence with 243 passing yards on 20 completions and threw a pair of touchdowns to Mike Oliva. Demar Hohnstein added a rushing touchdown in the victory.
The Huskers season is over after their defence forced four turnovers. Both Christopher Rolack II and Shane Claridge each intercepted a pass and Tyson Hulgan recorded a sack.
The Rebels will now visit the Okanagan Sun this weekend for the BC Conference Cullen Cup. The winner heads to Ontario for the CJFL National Semi-Final game on October 29th.