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.
The CJFL in conjunction with the Ontario Conference (OFC) have released their 2023 schedule that will see the six-member Conference open the CJFL season the weekend of August 12, 2023 with a full slate of games
The defending Conference champion St. Clair Saints begin their title defence that evening at 7:00pm when they host the Quinte Skyhawks. Earlier that day the London Beefeaters visit the Ottawa Sooners at 4:00pm at Lee’s Stadium in an Ontario Conference semi-final rematch to officially open the Conference season. Then on August 13th the GTA Grizzlies entertain the Hamilton Hurricanes in a matinee at 1:00pm.
The teams are scheduled to play an eight-week regular season concluding on October 1st. The Conference playoffs will open on October 14th, following the Thanksgiving bye weekend with a pair of semi-finals before the Conference championship game scheduled for Saturday October 21st.
The winner of the Ontario final will travel to the Prairie Conference in the CJFL National Semi-Final on Saturday October 28th. The winner of that game will travel to BC for the 2023 Canadian Bowl.