Photo courtesy of Crazy Bees Photography
Last season saw a complete transformation of Isaiah Letander of the Valley Huskers and now he’s part of the Class of 2023.
During the 2021 season Letander was a big punishing body on the Huskers defensive line. He aggravated the opposing offences and collected nine tackles, a sack and forced a fumble. He made such an impact he was named a BC Conference All-Star.
Fast forward to 2022 and Letander decided to flip positions and move to the offensive line and he didn’t miss a beat. He had to learn different schemes, blocking positioning and a very extensive Huskers playbook, and it seemed like he didn’t have an issue. He became one of the best offensive linemen in the Conference and was named a CJFL First Team All-Canadian!
He has the speed and agility to get out and lead the running back with a big block and the strength to blow open a hole to give the back an easier path for extra yardage.
Isaiah Letander of the Valley Huskers is part of the CJFL Class of 2023. Click HERE to watch his All-Canadian highlights.
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.
The Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) is proud to announce the First-Team All-Canadians for the 2022 season.
Jayson Kehler – Saskatoon Hilltops
Connor Klassen – Regina Thunder
Isaiah Letander – Valley Huskers
Corey Levesque – St. Clair Saints
Jeff Vander Werff – Okanagan Sun
Isaac Foord – Regina Thunder – 40 receptions for 638 yards and 8 touchdowns
Jared Hayes-Williams – St. Clair Saints - 33 receptions for 617 yards and 6 touchdowns
Kieran Poissant – Westshore Rebels – 44 receptions for 811 yards and 10 touchdowns
Rylan Sokul – Regina Thunder – 44 receptions for 669 yards and 4 touchdowns
Taz Bell – London Beefeaters - 86 carries for 554 yards and three touchdowns
Alex Gayle – Edmonton Huskies – 150 carries for 923 yards and 10 touchdowns
Te Jessie – Westshore Rebels – 169 of 305 for 2864 yards, 28 touchdowns and completed 55% of his passes
Eric Maximuik – Regina Thunder – 41 punts averaging 34.5 yards and 1 single
AJ Williamson – London Beefeaters - 19 of 25 in field goals, 76% with his longest being 49 yards, 21 of 22 in coverts
Dylan Clarke – London Beefeaters - 23 tackles, 9 assists, 6.5 sacks, 1 blocked kick, 5 knockdowns, 2 fumble recoveries with 1 for a touchdown
Riece Kack – Saskatoon Hilltops – 20 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Reece McCormick – Regina Thunder- 16 tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 3 sacks
Kelon Thomas – Okanagan Sun – 11.5 sacks, 19 tackles, 1 blocked kick, 1 knockdown, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery
Jaiden Claassen – Valley Huskers – 43 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 knockdown, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Konner Johnson – Saskatoon Hilltops – 31 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 knockdowns, 4 interceptions
Isaiah Joseph – Hamilton Hurricanes - 43 tackles, 11 assists, 1 sack, 2 knockdowns, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Sean Adams – VI Raiders – 34 tackles, 2 blocked kicks, 3 knockdowns, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions
Damien Bucknor – Calgary Colts – 36 tackles, 1 knockdown, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
Keagan Curtis – Kamloops Broncos – 9 interceptions, 28 tackles, 2 knockdowns
Justin McKerracher – Regina Thunder – 5 interceptions, 1 returned for a touchdown, 16 tackles, 6 knockdowns, 1 fumble recovery
Nathanial Norton – St. Clair Saints - 12 tackles, 2 assists, 4 interceptions, 2 knockdowns
Mike O’Shea – Okanagan Sun – 44 punt returns, 649 yards and 3 touchdowns, 14 kick-off returns for 362 yards
The CJFL Major Award winners will be announced on Friday at the Celebration of Excellence.