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.
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 Hamilton Hurricanes have announced Barry Emo as their new head coach after Jason Hayes stepped down after an incredible career.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this great organization and I’m looking forward to continuing the great tradition of the Hamilton Hurricanes,” said Emo.
He joins the Hurricanes with over 40 years of playing and coaching experience at all levels of football. He started his playing career with Thistletown Collegiate then moved onto the CJFL to play for the Brampton Satellites and the Etobicoke Argonauts. Emo played for Northeast Missouri State (DII) on a scholarship and spent time on the practice rosters of the Ottawa Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts.
Coach Emo spent 10 years coaching in the Northern Football Conference (NFC) with the Mission Marauders, Oakville Longhorns and Steel City Patriots. He won a provincial title and national championship in 2004 with Milton and has the highest winning percentage in NFC history. Emo was named the Coach of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2017 and was inducted into the NFC Hall of Fame in 2014. He has also coached with the Guelph Gryphons of the OUA in Ontario, Nelson High School in Burlington as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator and won the OFSAA Independence Bowl in 2019.
“The staff that we are putting together has so much potential and upside,” continued Emo. “The staff is full of talent from all levels of football in Canada and our goal is to win a Canadian Bowl championship, but more impactful than that, we want to develop football players and good quality people to make a difference in our communities. We have all the necessary tools to lay the groundwork for a title run.”
Team President Mike Samuel is looking forward to what Coach Emo and his staff bring to the storied franchise. “The appointment of Barry Emo as our new head coach brings renewed optimism for 2023 and the future of Hurricanes football. His background speaks for itself, and we are excited to see him at work next season.”
The Hurricanes 2023 schedule will be released sometime in the spring.