The defending Ontario Conference champion St. Clair Saints will once again be in the mix at the end of the season fighting for the Conference title in 2023.
Their defence will be bolstered by their secondary led by All-Canadian defensive back Billy Patterson who returns for this third season.
Last year the Saints were the stingiest defence in the Conference and one of the best in the entire CJFL allowing a measly average of 10 points a game. One of the reasons was the play of their ballhawk secondary led by Patterson who tallied 15 tackles, five assisted stops, had an interception and three knockdowns.
In his All-Canadian season in 2021 he collected four interceptions, including one for a touchdown and had 10 tackles.
He is hungry coming into this season and is a member of the CJFL Class of 2023! Watch his highlights from last season:
Photo courtesy of Boris Terzic
A total of eight players with CJFL experience were selected this week at the CFL Draft.
The day started on a high when former Westshore Rebels offensive lineman Dontae Bull was taken first overall by the Ottawa RedBlacks. He saw limited time with the Rebels in 2017.
The next CJFLer to hear his name came in the second round when the Edmonton Elks took defensive back Jacob Taylor who played for the St. Clair (Fratmen) Saints in the 2016 season. He helped a very stringy defence who allowed 15 points a game during the campaign.
In the third-round defensive lineman Kwadwo Boahen who spent time with the Canadian Bowl champion Okanagan Sun last season was picked 22nd overall by the Calgary Stampeders. Oddly enough is only season in the CJFL was in 2022 and he was taken 22nd overall.
Another defensive star in the CJFL was selected in the fourth round when defensive lineman Tanner Schmekel was chosen by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 35th overall. Schmekel played the 2019 season with the Regina Thunder collecting eight tackles, had five assists, forced a fumble and put pressure on the opposing quarterback countless times.
Tight-end Sebastian Howard was the first of three former CJFL payers to be drafted in the sixth round. Howard was taken by the Stampeders, 49th overall after playing for the Langley Rams in 2019. He was part of a Rams team that when undefeated throughout the regular season and hosted the Canadian Bowl that season.
Cameron Fair was the lone CJFL kicker taken in the draft when he was selected 51st by the Stampeders. He spent the 2017 season as a member of the GTA Grizzlies connecting on eight field goals and averaged almost 30 yards a punt.
Linebacker Ife Onyemenam was the only player with CJFL experience to be chosen by the defending Grey Cup champion Toronto Argos. He was taken 54th overall, in the sixth round after playing the 2019 and 2022 seasons with the Regina Thunder.
The final CJFL player in the draft was running back Derek Best (pictured) who carried the rock for the Langley Rams in 2021 and 2022. He was selected 65th overall by the Edmonton Elks. During the Rams 2021 Canadian Bowl championship season he rushed 29 times for 204 yards and scored three majors. In the title game he scored the Rams lone rushing touchdown on 11 carries and picked up 55 yards. Then in 2022 he was even better with 381 yards on 60 carries and scored another three touchdowns.
Good luck to all eight players as they now head to their respective team camps.
Photo courtesy of Joanna Kurowski Photography
The London Beefeaters open their 2023 Spring Camp this weekend with high expectations after playing in the Ontario Conference final last season.
Second year head coach Matt Snyder has been busy recruiting and is excited to get back on the field expecting 90-110 players for Spring Camp on Saturday. There is a nice mix of veteran and new recruits that are both local and from across the province that will attend camp.
This weekend will build upon the already 12 off season workouts that the Beefeaters have held since January. However, due to the limited space they focused on skill development during this time so this weekend will be first to install some actual plays. “Our plan on Saturday is to introduce our base system on both offence and defence,” says Snyder. “This is our initial family of plays that serve as the foundation for future installs and ensures we can lean on these plays during our summer workouts before training camp starts.”
The Beefeaters have elected to run a one-day spring camp to ensure the maximum number of players can attend without travel issues. It is unique but it works for their club so to not interfere with a very popular summer football program in the area. They plan to hold two practices on Saturday, then a systems walk thru and finish by playing a modified scrimmage.
They are coming off another successful season in the Ontario Conference in 2022 finishing 6-2 with the second stingiest defence allowing 16 points a game. They anticipate to have about 90% of their expected 2023 roster in attendance on Saturday.
They will open the season on August 12th when they visit the Ottawa Sooners, the team they eliminated last year in a Conference semi-final. Their home opener will be played on August 20th when they host the Hamilton Hurricanes.