The final weekend of the regular season is up next. It really does seem like yesterday that the season was kicking off. Week 10 offers really the 3 best possible match-ups we can hope for. We can thank the scheduling Gods, or the guy who actually prepared the schedule, Broncos President Dino Bernardo for this gem. Musings for week 10…
While only one of the three games this weekend has actual play-off implications, all of them offer interesting storylines. The Huskers host the Kamloops Broncos, as the players have their final opportunity to christen head coach Bob Reist with the “Gatorade shower” for his first win, while at the same time they try to avoid tying their own team record for most consecutive losses (31), which the club established over the 2009/2012 seasons. The conference record, one the Huskers will have no interest in breaking would have to wait until 2018 as that mark sits at 35 games. Pride is on the line here for both clubs, but in that area, it might mean a bit more to the Broncos, a club that had hoped to be in the play-off race. Either way, these clubs match up well, so it should be a good one to watch.
The Raiders and Rams will finish in 3rd and 4th spot respectively, so this is the one game that arguably is a mean nothing affair, although it’s safe to assume that neither fiery personality of head coaches Doug Hocking or Jeff Alamolhoda will be comfortable heading into the play-offs on a losing note. There is no truth to the rumour that Hocking offered to flip from 3rd to 4th spot depending on where the Raiders’ bitter rival Westshore Rebels finish, with the idea if the Rebels finished in 1st his club would take 4th spot for the opportunity to take the Rebels out in round one. Hocking is probably reading this thinking “Hey, I like that…”
The last game is the highlight of the weekend in a winner takes first place showdown between the 8-1 Rebels and 8-0-1 Sun at Westhills Stadium, with the Sun having a slight advantage in that a tie would give them first spot. How big is home field advantage in this one? That’s tough to say, but in a game between two teams as evenly matched as these clubs, home turf will be big as the Sun will endure a long day of bus and ferry prior to kick off, in addition to having a boisterous home crowd against them. Will this game come down to 2 key plays that took place weeks ago though? Way back on July 29 when these clubs met on opening day, the Sun had a 19-15 lead and had possession in Rebels territory before turning the ball over. A touchdown or even field goal there would have given the Sun a point spread in this one a bit more difficult for the Rebels to overcome. Then, back on Sept 10th as time wound down, the Sun allowed a 2-point conversion following a VI Raiders touchdown, which resulted in a tie game, making any point spread advantage the Sun had over the Rebels a moot point. Football is a game of inches as they say…This one will be worth the price of admission.
Both Rebels head coach Charly Cardilicchia and Sun counterpart Ben Macauley will be quick to assert after this game that, should the clubs meet in the Cullen Cup later this month this game means nothing. And they would be right as road teams win championships, but don’t kid yourselves, home field means everything in a championship game.
It was a curious play call by the Okanagan Sun yesterday. Up by 14 points, deep in Rams territory with less than 50 seconds on the clock the Sun passed the ball rather than taking a knee to kill the clock. A score would have meant nothing, but an injury to a player could have cost them down the road.
The head coach of the Calgary Dinos was in attendance at the Sun/Rams game this weekend. Now, before you read on let me be clear that I believe a football player who wants to attend university for an education should do so…if he is going to school for that genuine reason. As someone who has been involved with junior football since 1988 I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of instances where an athlete left junior to “go to school”, only to either drop out or take classes designed to allow him to stay in school and play football, not earn an actual degree. Even with a scholarship provided by the university, the player compiles debt, often substantial debt, to attend school because Canadian university sports scholarships generally do not come anywhere close to covering the actual cost of going to school.
If a junior player is considering the move to university either before, or after junior eligibility expires be honest with yourself as to why you are making the move. As a starter at U Sport, the commitments both financial and time due to increased practice schedules are massive. If you aren’t a starter, you have the same commitment level which can make the whole experience disappointing on many levels.
I understand university coaches recruiting junior players, their concern is their team, not the damage they may be doing to the junior club’s roster by recruiting players with junior eligibility remaining. I also understand junior coaches assisting their players who want to attend university for an education. I’m not sure, however, if I understand the concept of a university coach standing at mid field or on a sideline scouting players during a game. Junior football is a business in that while our clubs are non-profit, on-field success goes a long way to ensuring the club stays afloat, losing talented players can hurt our bottom line. If our clubs are serving as a farm term for U Sport as we develop players for them, shouldn’t a farm team compensation exist? I know that junior coaches will be quick to mention they benefit from universities sending players to junior as well, the difference is those players are ones the university either don’t need or are losing anyway because they are leaving school. Many of those mentioned players may also have little impact on a junior roster either.
3 questions to ponder
- How would it go over if junior coaches stood at mid field of a U-Sport game to recruit players that the university in question wanted to keep?
- What percentage of junior players who later attend university actually obtain a degree?
- Has a university coach ever had a conversation with a player that went like this; “Son, I know you are passing your classes, and we really need you on this team. But let’s be honest, you are only in school for football and the bills you are piling on yourself through student loans aren’t in your best interest. Maybe university football isn’t what best for you.”
I have to admit, I’ll be paying attention to the Saskatoon Hilltops/Edmonton Huskies first place showdown on the prairies this weekend. That should be epic
Looking out to the OFC as well now since the regular season is about to wrap up across the country. It’s looking very likely that the Windsor AKO Fratmen will be hosting the Canadian Bowl Nov 11, as that club is dominating out there, its only loss to the PFC powerhouse Edmonton Huskies on opening week.
The 5-2 London Beefeaters and 4-3 Hamilton Hurricanes will finish in 2nd and 3rd spot, with the actual order to be determined this weekend. What’s really interesting is that these two clubs won’t actually play each other until the first round of the play-offs due to the interlocking schedule the OFC played with the PFC, that created an un-balanced schedule in each conference.
The Beefeaters travelled to Calgary a couple weeks ago to play the Colts, while the Hurricanes hosted the Regina Thunder, and travelled to Edmonton to play the Wildcats. Those 3 games covered almost 5700 miles, yet geographic rivals London and Hamilton didn’t once make the 79 mile trip up the highway to play each other? I don’t know exactly what those 3 interlocking games cost, but I’m guessing they were at least a little more than a bus trip from Hamilton to London would have cost.
How far would interlock travel dollars have gone to work on building the OFC, a conference that is vital to the CJFL. Yesterday, the first-place Windsor squad beat the winless Niagra Reginal Raiders by a 1-0 score. Safe to assume that game wasn’t a tight defensive battle but rather a forfeiture by the Raiders. Back to the question of what inter-locking dollars spent in the OFC might accomplish…
We all know that inter-locking games will not happen in 2018, that ‘s a no-brainer. The question is how could anyone with any sort of idea as to the pulse of the junior football climate in this country have though they were a good idea in the first place?
Perhaps a call will be made from the CJFL to the BCFC that this column is critical of the interlocking schedule is detrimental to the CJFL. I’ll disagree that an opinion piece can be detrimental, but if we are concerned about something potentially being detrimental, why did these games take place in the first place?
Road bet of the week. In every case the visitors have a real shot to come away with a win. I picked the Sun to run the table a few weeks back, but I’m not as sure now due to an offense that has been a bit on the inconsistent side the last few weeks. The Rams, albeit in a loss to the Sun put in a much better effort yesterday at the Apple Bowl. I think the Raiders will win this one, but wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams pulled it out. But I think the Huskers are due for a win, pick them to end the streak.