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 Second-Team All-Canadians for the 2022 season.
Carson Lethbridge – Edmonton Huskies (second consecutive season)
Jaden Caston – St. Clair Saints
Will St. Hubert – Prince George Kodiaks
David Legg – London Beefeaters
Riley Schick – Regina Thunder
Anthony Grigg – Hamilton Hurricanes - 34 receptions for 578 yards and 6 touchdowns
Colton Meikle – Kamloops Broncos – 43 receptions for 853 yards and 7 touchdowns
Mike O’Shea – Okanagan Sun – 28 receptions for 483 yards and 8 touchdowns
Isaiah Woodley – Regina Thunder – 34 receptions for 593 yards and 5 touchdowns
Jevan Garwood – Okanagan Sun – 115 carries for 920 yards and 9 touchdowns
Reece Wyke – Valley Huskers – 200 carries for 1095 yards and 8 touchdowns
Carter Shewchuk – Regina Thunder – 157 of 250 for 2351 yards, 18 touchdowns, completed 63% of his passes
AJ Williamson – London Beefeaters - 49 punts, 33.6 yards average, 4 singles
Simon Hales – Westshore Rebels – 12 of 15 field goals
Mikhail Biggs – Edmonton Huskies – 22 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 1 knockdown
Tynan Braymiller – St. Clair Saints - 12 tackles, 6 assists, 3.5 sacks, 2 blocked kicks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, with 1 for a touchdown
Richard Graham – Ottawa Sooners- 24 tackles, 5 assists, 2.5 sacks, 1 blocked kick, 1 knockdown, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions both returned for touchdowns
Romareo Reid – Okanagan Sun – 12.5 sacks, 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Shawn Charles – Ottawa Sooners- 21 tackles, 2 assists, 1.5 sacks, 2 blocked kicks, 2 forced fumble, 1 recovery for a touchdown, 1 interception
Peyton Ryder – Okanagan Sun – 36 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 knockdown, 1 fumble recovery, 9 assisted tackles
Stephen Smith – Regina Thunder – 29 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 knockdowns, 1 force fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Garrett Cape – Okanagan Sun – 19 tackles, 1 interception, 2 knockdowns, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown
Adam King – Regina Thunder – 23 tackles, 2 knockdowns, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Keon Raymond Jr. – Prince George Kodiaks – 32 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 knockdowns, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception returned for a touchdown
Tanner Shaw – Edmonton Wildcats – 36 tackles, 1 blocked kick, 2 knockdowns, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
Jordan Wright – London Beefeaters - 3 tackles, 4 assists, 4 interceptions, 4 knockdowns
Caleb Akerley – Edmonton Huskies – 23 punt returns for 333 yards, 21 kick-off returns for 502 yards
The CJFL First-Team All-Canadians will be announced on Thursday November 10, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Wanda Harron Photography
The Prairie Conference wraps up their regular season on Sunday with three games with playoff positioning on the line.
Edmonton Huskies @ Regina Thunder – Sunday October 16, 1:00pm – Leibel Field | WATCH HERE
For the top ranked Regina Thunder this game means nothing in the standings. They have already wrapped up first place in the Conference and homefield advantage throughout the Canadian Bowl playoffs. They are coming off the Thanksgiving bye week so their best players will no doubt start the game, however most likely will not finish it as the coaching staff doesn’t want to take any unnecessary chances.
The Huskies meanwhile need a win to clinch a home playoff date. They currently sit in second place and a loss would mean they would need help from the Calgary Colts to beat the Saskatoon Hilltop to clinch the home playoff game. A loss and a Hilltops win would put the Huskies on the road for the post season.
It’s the second time this year the Thunder and Huskies have battled. On August 28th the Thunder blew out the Huskies 43-14 in Edmonton as quarterback Carter Shewchuk threw for 367 yards and five touchdowns. The Thunder defence was great, holding the Huskies to 14 points, all in the second quarter.
The Thunder remain undefeated while the Huskies have won four straight including an important win over the Winnipeg Rifles before Thanksgiving.
Records: Huskies 5-2 – Thunder 7-0
Points For: Huskies 212 – Thunder 244
Points Against: Huskies 169 – Thunder 116
Passing Leaders: Jordan Lane – 74 of 129 for 1273 yards and 7 touchdowns (Huskies) – Carter Shewchuk – 144 of 227 for 2160 yards and 16 touchdowns (Thunder)
Rushing Leaders: Alex Gayle – 132 carries for 793 yards and 9 touchdowns (Huskies) – Ryland Leichert – 118 carries for 710 yards and 3 touchdowns (Thunder)
Receiving Leaders: Jake Strakowicz – 21 receptions for 333 yards (Huskies) – Rylan Sokul – 39 receptions for 582 yards and 3 touchdowns (Thunder)
Leading Tacklers: Paul Loggale – 26 tackles (Huskies) – Matthew Schill – 28 tackles (Thunder)
Calgary Colts @ Saskatoon Hilltops - Sunday October 16, 1:00pm – SMF Field | WATCH HERE
If the Hilltops can get by the Colts on Sunday, they will clinch second place and a home playoff date as both teams wrap up the regular season.
Three weeks ago, when they met in Calgary the Toppers claimed a 35-17 victory. Running back Boston Davidsen paced his club with 144 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Hilltops did most of their damage in the first half scoring 25 of their 35 points.
Sunday afternoon they will honour head coach Tom Sargeant and his 25 years of coaching this perennial powerhouse.
His club has won two straight and are on the verge of hosting yet another playoff game. If they win, they will host the Edmonton Huskies in the post season, however If they lose, they will be on the road in Edmonton.
The Colts have an opportunity to play spoiler and make sure the Hilltops must travel in the playoffs, but scoring won’t be easy against the stingiest defence in the Conference. They have lost four straight including the 18-point loss to the Hilltops three weeks ago. This is their final game of the season.
Records: Colts 2-5 – Hilltops 4-3
Points For: Colts 198 – Hilltops 200
Points Against: Colts 214 – Hilltops 115
Passing Leaders: Nick Kennedy – 92 of 152 for 1239 yards and 11 touchdowns (Colts) – Damon Dutton – 71 of 114 for 779 yards and 3 touchdowns (Hilltops)
Rushing Leaders: Alan Xiang – 91 carries for 606 yards and 5 touchdowns (Colts) – Boston Davidsen – 133 carries for 891 yards and 5 touchdowns (Hilltops)
Receiving Leaders: Nicholas Sirleaf – 23 receptions for 357 yards and 1 touchdown (Colts) – Broden Marley – 30 receptions for 304 yards and 1 touchdown (Hilltops)
Leading Tacklers: Damien Bucknor – 31 tackles (Colts) – Matt Wist – 35 tackles (Hilltops)
Edmonton Wildcats @ Winnipeg Rifles – Sunday October 16, 3:00pm – IG Field | WATCH HERE
The Winnipeg Rifles are playoff bound and know they will face the Regina Thunder in a semi-final. They would love nothing more than to head into the post season on a winning note.
The Rifles have lost two straight with their last victory coming in Edmonton and a 48-20 victory over the Wildcats on September 18th. Win or lose they face the Thunder in the playoffs, a team they have played well against. Coming out of the Thanksgiving bye week it will be interesting to see how head coach Geordie Wilson manages his starters not wanting to take unnecessary risks with his top players.
The Wildcats conclude the regular season after this game and are hoping to give head coach Darcy Park a win in his final game. He and the team announced he will not be returning in 2023 after coaching with the Wildcats for over 20 years. It will no doubt be an emotional game for the entire organization.
Records: Wildcats 0-7 – Rifles 3-4
Points For: Wildcats 105 – Rifles 161
Points Against: Wildcats 337 – Rifles 169
Passing Leaders: Caleb Taylor – 61 of 115 for 921 yards and 2 touchdowns (Wildcats) – Bryson McNeil – 154 of 252 for 2204 yards and 12 touchdowns (Rifles)
Rushing Leaders: Jayden Sak – 55 carries for 255 yards (Wildcats) – Brady Meeks – 61 carries for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns (Rifles)
Receiving Leaders: Travis Heggart – 19 receptions for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns (Wildcats) – Jake Roger – 29 receptions for 548 yards and 2 touchdowns (Rifles)
Leading Tacklers: Tanner Shaw – 34 tacklers (Wildcats) – Brandon Kamenz – 35 tackles (Rifles)
Ontario Conference PLAYOFFS
Hamilton Hurricanes @ St. Clair Saints - WATCH HERE
Ottawa Sooners @ London Beefeaters - WATCH HERE
BC Conference PLAYOFFS
Langley Rams @ Okanagan Sun - WATCH HERE
Valley Huskers @ Westshore Rebels - WATCH HERE