‘Their time to shine’: Regina Thunder ready for junior football national championship

The Regina Thunder are preparing to meet with the Okanagan Sun in the Canadian Junior Football League’s (CJFL) 114th Canadian Bowl game Saturday afternoon.

The Thunder have played just one other time in the national championship, winning in 2013. While Okanagan has won the game twice, in 1988 and 2000, but losing more recently to Saskatoon in 2015. Both teams will put undefeated records on the line.

Thunder head coach Scott Macaulay said the message is no different given the circumstances.

“It’s been said to the guys all year,” he said. “Leave a legacy.”

With Roughriders missing out on the CFL playoffs, and the Regina Rams losing to UBC in the Canada West semi-finals, the Thunder have kept meaningful football alive in the Queen City.

“They’ve put in a lot of hard work in,” said Macaulay. “Now it’s their time to shine.”

Quarterback Carter Shewchuck threw for 2,351 yards this season, earning him a second-team All-Canadian nod in the CJFL.

With cold weather forecasted for game time, the run game is expected to make more of an impact for both teams.

“We’ve had a couple cold games now in the playoffs,” said Shewchuck. “Those boys up front are getting the job done and dominating the point of attack. That’s what it’s all about. This is playoff football.”

Thunder running back Ryland Leichert has been the beneficiary of the dominance by the offensive line these playoffs.

In the two previous games, he racked up 580 yards rushing alone, with 390 of those coming in a snowy Prairie Football Conference semi-final versus Winnipeg.

“I want to make those plays,” said Leichert. “[The team] trusts me in the backfield to hit the holes. As long as we work together as a unit, I just have to execute.”

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But, the Thunder expect the Sun to not be pushed over Saturday.

“They got some big dudes and they’re really athletic,” said Macaulay. “It’s going to be fun to see them live.”

Coach Macaulay said the difference will be made by whichever team has the better effort from the start.

“They’re going to expect us to be physical and that’s the way we’re going to play,” he said.

“We’re the most physical team in the country,” said defensive lineman Reed Rabbetz. “We’re ready for whatever Okanagan throws at us.”

Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium.

ALL CANADIANS

The CJFL announced its All-Canadian teams earlier this week, which serves as the league’s all-stars. The Thunder had 11 players selected on either the first or second team, the most in the country. Okanagan had the next most with eight players.

“It’s great they have the opportunity to be recognized,” said Macaulay. “The guys that were chosen were the guys who worked extremely hard in the offseason, throughout the year and were leaders on and off the field.”

  • Riley Schick – OL – Second team
  • Isaiah Woodley – WR – Second team
  • Carter Shewcuck – QB – Second team
  • Stephen Smith – LB – Second team
  • Adam King – DB – Second team
  • Reece McCormick – DL – First team
  • Justin McKerracher – DB – First team
  • Connor Klassen – OL – First team
  • Rylan Sokul – WR – First team
  • Isaac Foord – WR – First team
  • Eric Maximuk – P – First team

“It just goes to show we don’t just have one guy, we have all 12 flying around,” said McCormick. “For myself, it definitely feels good to receive that honour but it will mean a lot more with another ring on my finger.”

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